Renault’s Carlos Sainz was handed a penalty for gaining places on Lap 1 but the Spaniard was far from impressed with the call from the stewards in Formula 1 US GP.
It was a storming start from Sainz at the Circuit of the Americas when he made up five places to sixth from 11th on the opening lap – which included the spin for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel up ahead.
He slotted in behind teammate Nico Hulkenberg as the two Renault drivers were already ahead of the midfield pack. The Spaniard ran well for most of the race until he was put under investigation for gaining places illegally on Lap 1.
He was immediately awarded a five-second penalty which he did serve but fortunately for him, he did not lose track position as he stayed behind Hulkenberg and well ahead of the fighting duo of Racing Point Force India and Haas.
A replay showed the moment Sainz went off track in Turn 1 when he locked up heavily in the corner. The time he went off, he was already ahead of Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
He admitted to gaining on Esteban Ocon, whom he only cleared in Turn 6. Even though the penalty did not affect his results, he wasn’t happy with the stewards call as he felt it was his turn this time to be on the receiving end of FIA’s ‘inconsistency’ with penalties.
“I am frustrated because I got a penalty for a reason that I think I didn’t deserve a penalty for,” he said to the media after the race. “I just had a great start, I saw a pile-up in the inside and took the outside line.
“I think I had already picked up those three places before going around the outside, so it is nothing that I can really point out. I think every F1 driver in their lifetime goes around the outside in Turn 1 and had to go four wheels off-track.
“It is because we just don’t fit all of us there but it was my day to suffer a bit of a FIA inconsistency this year. I did run wide behind the Ferrari but re-joined the track safely, letting Esteban by.
“I then overtook him cleanly round the outside in turn six, so I still can’t understand the penalty.” His teammate had a more lonely outing in front of him but the German was relieved to score some points – his first since Singapore.
In fact, Renault achieved their best team result since returning as constructors’ – the previous best came in China when Hulkenberg was sixth again with Sainz in ninth. The results helped them to extend their advantage for fourth.
They have 106 points to Haas’ 84 after both their cars failed to score any points – Grosjean retired on Lap 1 while Kevin Magnussen finished ninth but was disqualified due to excessive fuel usage. Fuel consumption had been an issue for everyone in the race.