Carlos Sainz could not hide his fury and upset at being handed a five-second time penalty at the end of the Australian Grand Prix, which saw the Ferrari man drop out of the points.
The Spaniard had an eventful race in Melbourne and looked on course to seal a fourth-place finish before a chaotic chain of events led to him eventually being classified outside of the top 10.
Kevin Magnussen’s clash with the wall at the exit of turn two sent a shower of debris across the track and caused a late red flag which, in turn, triggered a restart ahead of the last two racing laps.
Indeed, a mad dash was expected and a mad dash is what we got as some of the finest drivers in the world fought tooth and nail to make late gains, resulting in a number of incidents.
Among them, Sainz tapped compatriot Fernando Alonso and though a separate incident involving the two Alpines caused another red flag and reverted the running order to what it was at lights out for the restart – saving the Aston Martin man’s third place – Sainz would not evade the gaze of the stewards.
Indeed, it was confirmed before the final restart behind the Safety Car that Sainz was going to be handed a five-second time penalty and, with the field totally bunched up as they crossed the line for the final time after the race had once again got going, he found himself losing all the points he had been set to earn.
Ultimately, the incident with Alonso was Sainz’s fault and so some kind of sanction was to be expected but it naturally seemed harsher than normal given the drop in the order he had to suffer.
Speaking after the race, he could not hide his upset and anger:
“I think it is the most unfair penalty I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
“Before talking and saying any really bad stuff or bad words, I’d prefer to go back to the stewards, have a conversation with them and maybe I can come back and talk again.
“Because right now honestly I cannot do it, I think it is too unfair and I don’t feel well to speak.”
The stewards, though, were unmoved:
“Car 14 was significantly ahead of Car 55 at the first corner and nevertheless Car 55 drove into Car 14, causing it to spin and leave the track,” they stated post race.
“For avoidance of doubt, we took into account the fact that this collision took place at the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the Stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents.
“However, in this particular case, notwithstanding the fact that it was the equivalent of a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for Car 55 to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so.”
Ferrari leave Melbourne with no points, then, with Charles Leclerc retiring on the first lap after clipping Lance Stroll’s car and landing himself in the gravel.
Azerbaijan at the end of April surely can’t come soon enough for the Scuderia.