McLaren has officially claimed third place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards decided to take no further action against Carlos Sainz.

The Woking outfit looked to have taken third in the constructors’ championship as Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz finished fifth and sixth at the 2020 season finale in Abu Dhabi, however Sainz faced a post-race investigation for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pitlane when he made his stop.

After reviewing the incident, the Yas Marina Circuit stewards deemed no further action was required as Sainz avoided a time penalty that could have dropped him further down the final classification.

The decision from the stewards’ room officially confirmed the much-coveted third place position for McLaren, who successfully overhauled a 10-point deficit to Racing Point at the final round of the year as its nearest rivals could only manage a 10th-place finish courtesy of Lance Stroll, with Sergio Perez retiring with engine trouble.

“Car 55 [Sainz] was advised by its team, that it was 2.4 seconds in front of car 18 Stroll] approaching the Pit Entry,” the stewards said. “There was no instruction by the Team to slow down.

“On approaching the start of the pit lane car 55 accelerated then as per normal practice, braked briefly to less than 80 km/h just prior to the line and then accelerated up to 80. This was exactly the same as car five [Sebastian Vettel]. (Car 18 also braked to below 80 prior to the line then accelerated up to 80 as it crossed the line).

“Within the pit lane, car 55 was at 80 kph for all but approximately five seconds when it dropped to no less than 70 kph. We estimate this resulted in car 55 arriving at the pit stop around 0.6 second later than if it had maintained a speed of 80 kph.

“Therefore, we are not of the view that this action in any way resulted in the team avoiding a “double stack” situation as car five was well clear of the pit stop at this time. We also accept the explanation of the driver of car 55 that he was exercising a degree of caution as video evidence confirms the presence of a lot of other teams’ personnel in the pit lane at the time.

“Car 18 was able to maintain a speed of 80 kph in the pit lane except for a very short period of time (approximately 1 second) and therefore we do not consider that it was materially impacted by the actions of the driver of car 55.

“We also checked the relative speeds of the cars after leaving their pit stops and can see no evidence of car 55 driving unnecessarily slowly.”

McLaren’s award for leapfrogging Racing Point is in the region of $10million (£7.5m) of prize money, and it came on a huge day in the team’s history having announced it has agreed a deal to sell a third of the company to a group of US-based investors.

The former world champion squad finished seven points clear of Racing Point, while Ferrari-bound Sainz secured sixth place in the drivers’ championship, three places ahead of ninth-placed Norris.

 

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