Carlos Sainz has bemoaned the lack consistency with penalties applied in Formula 1 after a controversial Mexican Grand Prix, indicating that it is beginning to play on drivers' minds in the heat of battle.
Sainz was slapped with a time penalty as punishment for easing Fernando Alonso onto the grass during the opening lap of the Mexico race, a ruling he felt was 'harsh' because penalties weren't applied for what he felt were other 'similar incidents'.
Coming on a weekend in which the penalty structure in F1 was brought into question once again after controversies involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso driver Sainz says the inconsistencies are leaving drivers be distracted by what will and won't be punished when racing 'on the limit'.
“This is what Formula One needs to understand either to look at it accident by accident or to put a fixed rule in.
“It is very difficult to know when to expect or not expect a penalty nowadays if you do a move that is a little bit on the limit and you are risking a penalty. You are going to have to play on the limit knowing it could or could not happen.”
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Asked whether F1 should consider permanent race stewards – rather than race-by-race stewards – in ensure consistency, Sainz agrees so long as it ensures drivers know exactly what is permissible at all times.
“I have said that my whole F1 career but it is understandable as humans are humans and you will have a different opinion to me. Every race there will be different opinions. As drivers we need to race with it clear in our minds and need to know when we make a move what the stewards are going to think.
“At the moment we never know what to think after a move or an incident. After seeing Fernando on the grass I didn't know whether they thought it was a penalty or a great move. If it was the same stewards the criteria would be a lot clear but maybe not always the same. It would be a lot closer.”
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