Sunday, May 19, 2024

Chinese GP: Aston Martin protest against Qualifying result dismissed after Carlos Sainz incident

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Aston Martin’s protest against the results of Qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix after Carlos Sainz crashed but carried on during Q2 on Saturday was dismissed by race stewards in Shanghai.

The protest concerned Article 39.6 of the F1 sporting regulations which state “any driver whose car stops on the track during the qualifying session or the sprint qualifying will not be permitted to take any further part in that session”.

Sainz stopped for over a minute in Q2 after spinning at the last corner but managed to carry on and went on to qualify in seventh behind Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc.

In a verdict delivered more than three hours after the protest was lodged, stewards said they had found “numerous examples where cars had stopped for different lengths of time and were permitted to restart and continue to participate in the session concerned.

“There was therefore a clear pattern of past practice in the sport whereby this rule was read to allow a car to restart and continue, so long as it did not receive outside assistance to do so,” the stewards’ verdict concluded.

“The decision taken by Race Control was not inconsistent with past practice nor in breach of Article 39.6.

“We considered that even if the plain wording of Article 39.6 warranted a more stark conclusion, the consistent practice in the sport to date did not warrant a setting aside of the discretion exercised by Race Control by us as Stewards.”

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso qualified third behind the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, while Lance Stroll was knocked out in Q2 and will start the Chinese GP from 11th when the lights go out in Shanghai at 8am on Sunday, live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event.

What happened to Sainz?

Sainz spun at the final corner with seven minutes remaining in the second part of Qualifying and hit the inside barriers.

The session was stopped just moments after he crashed and it initially looked like Sainz wasn’t able to get going again.

However, around 70 seconds after his incident, he managed to crawl out of the grass without any assistance from the marshals and limped back around to the pit lane without a front wing.

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Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc reflect on an interesting qualifying session with hopes for a stronger result in the race at the Chinese Grand Prix

Ferrari fixed his car and Sainz was able to get into Q3 in third place whilst Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was knocked out in 11th place. Had Sainz not been able to take part in the last minutes of Q2, Stroll would have progressed to Q3.

“I had a big moment and right in the last moment I crashed in the right angle and turned the wheel a bit to make sure I didn’t crash straight with the rear tyre and was a bit more sideways. This probably saved the day,” Sainz told Sky Sports F1.

“From there on, high heart rate and adrenaline but I managed to put a strong lap later in Q2 and recovered well from that moment.”

Can Ferrari recover from disappointing qualifying in race?

Although the fact Sainz was even able to complete qualifying after his accident was solace for Ferrari, the wider picture of their session was still one of disappointment given the Spaniard and team-mate Leclerc qualified behind their key rivals on the grid.

Sunday’s race will be the first time that Ferrari have started with both their cars outside the top five since last August’s Dutch GP.

However, Leclerc, who will start sixth, is more optimistic about the SF-24’s race prospects when they will bid to get back ahead of the McLarens, who qualified fourth and fifth, and Fernando Alonso’s third-placed Aston Martin.

“On my side, I knew the set-up I chose was not ideal for qualifying but I did not expect to be behind the Astons and McLaren,” said Leclerc.

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Check out the best of the action from a thrilling Qualifying session at the Chinese Grand Prix.

“But I believe it’s a good sign for [the race] in that we have the right car to perform well. It will all be about how fast we pass the others to get in front.”

Asked if he was nonetheless anxious about potentially being trapped in a so-called ‘DRS train’ – an effective stalemate which occurs when several cars are running within one-second of each other and therefore all able to open their respective car’s rear-wing flap for a top speed boost, lessening overtaking opportunities – on a circuit that features a 1km-long back straight, Leclerc said: “That’s the main question mark.

“If we have a DRS train, we will have to be patient and wait for the guy in front to lose the DRS.

“The race is longer and for sure there will be laps where people don’t have DRS and we have to take the opportunity and pass people.”

Rosberg predicts ‘wide open’ battle among chasing pack

Sky Sports F1’s Nico Rosberg:

“Max Verstappen [who starts on pole] in this car is on another planet. It’s something historical we are witnessing, this level of performance and I think Perez will struggle to keep anywhere near him.

“Behind that, it’s wide open and that’s where the biggest excitement will be. Fernando did an incredible job in Qualifying but the Ferraris have the quickest race pace and they will be putting on a lot of pressure behind.

“Then there’s the McLarens but Lando says they can’t fix that rear traction, sliding problem that he had in the Sprint, so we probably shouldn’t expect them to be faster than the Ferraris. That’s where the big race is on.

“Perhaps Ferrari have a set-up more towards the race and that’s why they were struggling in Qualifying. What that means is usually you have a stiffer front end and that uses the front more and saves the rear tyres because it seems the rear for some reason were degrading the most, which is a bit unusual for this track.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Chinese GP schedule

China schedule

Sunday April 21
7am: Grand Prix Sunday: Chinese GP build-up*
8am: The CHINESE GRAND PRIX*
10am: Chequered Flag: Chinese GP reaction*
11am: Ted’s Notebook*

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

You can watch every session of the Chinese Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 and steam every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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