During the qualifying session, there was a tense moment between Pierre Gasly of Alpine and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari. Gasly was on a flying lap when he encountered Sainz, who was creating space for himself to attempt a final lap. However, Sainz was nearly stationary at the final chicane, forcing Gasly to veer off onto the escape road. This unfortunate incident meant that Gasly remained in 17th place and was unable to improve his lap time to secure a spot in Q2.
Gasly was furious with Sainz‘s actions and called for him to be banned. He deemed Sainz‘s driving as “unacceptable.” Sainz defended himself by stating that he had been impeded by Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri, who had overtaken him before the chicane. This forced Sainz to start his flying lap later than planned.
Following their investigation and hearing from both drivers, the FIA stewards made a decision. Sainz was given a three-place grid penalty for the upcoming Grand Prix, demoting him from eighth to 11th. As a result, Oscar Piastri moved up to eighth place, Alex Albon to ninth, and Sainz‘s teammate, Charles Leclerc, to tenth.
In their verdict, the stewards explained that they had considered testimony from Sainz, Gasly, and team representatives. They also reviewed various forms of evidence, including positioning/marshalling system data, video footage, timing data, and in-car video evidence. Sainz claimed that he was surprised when Gasly overtook him at Turn 13, causing him to accelerate late for his fast lap. Gasly argued that Sainz could have started his lap earlier. Telemetry data revealed a significant speed differential between the two drivers.
Ultimately, the stewards determined that Sainz was primarily to blame for the incident and had unnecessarily impeded Gasly. They noted that although Sainz was taken by surprise by Gasly‘s overtaking move, he should have reacted differently.
Sainz expressed his frustration after the decision, stating that he had been impeded multiple times throughout the session. He also mentioned that he did not use the radio as much as other drivers to complain about incidents. Sainz emphasized that time was running out and he had to push for his qualifying lap, as he was also being impeded at that moment.
In the end, this incident added drama to the qualifying session and resulted in a penalty for Carlos Sainz, affecting the starting positions for the upcoming Grand Prix. Both drivers will be looking for a strong performance on the race day to make up for the qualifying setback.