Guenther Steiner has hit out at the leniency of the penalty handed out to Carlos Sainz Jr. for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on the opening lap of the United States Grand Prix, with the Spaniard only being handed a five-second time penalty for the offence.
Steiner, the team principal of the Haas F1 Team, felt that it took too long for the stewards to react to the offence, meaning that when the penalty was handed out, it did not ultimately cost the Renault Sport Formula One Team driver any positions. He also insisted Haas will be bringing this scenario up in the next meeting of the Sporting Working Group.
“Our team manager will bring it to the Sporting Working Group,” Steiner is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “You cut the corner, take an advantage, and then it takes five laps to realise that somebody did something, it takes another five laps [to react] – and you are gone by then because everybody’s stuck.
“Then they give you five-seconds, which means nothing, because you’re gone. It’s wrong. They need to say that if they catch you after five or 10 laps, you need to go back to your original position, and lose the positions, or give a bigger penalty.
“Otherwise if you’re clever enough, and some people are clever enough to play this as a strategy, just cut it knowing that you get five seconds, and try to drag it out. Because on the first lap there are so many incidents, and the stewards deal with the incidents on importance.
“For sure the front [of the field] is more important. If you would replay this race and Sainz was put back in the position where he started, the race would have developed completely differently. I think nobody thinks about this because nobody really cares, but we should care.”
Steiner was backed up by Otmar Szafnauer, the team principal of Racing Point Force India F1 Team, who also felt there should have been a more severe punishment handed out to Sainz for gaining such an advantage at the start.
“Sainz ran wide and gained an advantage,” said Szafnauer. “He braked really late, and the fact that he went off the track to overtake everybody, and he got a five-second penalty, isn’t really commensurate with what he did.
“And it’s not in line with the regulations. It should have been a stop and go or 10 seconds if he doesn’t give the place back.”