Why Sainz escaped penalty for "muscle memory" DRS use

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has explained why drivers, including podium finisher Carlos Sainz, escaped any potential sanction for opening DRS under yellow flags.

Why Sainz escaped penalty for "muscle memory" DRS use

Sainz was one of eight drivers whose DRS usage was looked at by the stewards after the race, although in the end no formal investigations were opened, and no penalties followed.

The subject of opening DRS under waved yellows was brought to the fore in Austin, where Daniil Kvyat kept his open when flags were out after Kevin Magnussen’s incident. The Russian was able to close up on Sergio Perez, leading to a collision immediately afterwards.

Kvyat received a penalty for the contact, but not for having his DRS open, despite it suggesting that he was not slowing down enough, as the rules require.

Read Also:

That incident triggered a lengthy debate in the drivers’ briefing in Interlagos, where the consensus was that opening the DRS under waved yellows did indicate that a driver wasn’t slowing and thus could trigger a penalty. 

However, there is no specific mention of DRS in connection with yellow flags in the current sporting regulations.

In the Brazilian race, Sainz opened his DRS when flags were out after Valtteri Bottas stopped on lap 53. At the time he was being followed by Kimi Raikkonen, who reported what he’d seen to the team. Alfa Romeo team manager Beat Zehnder subsequently alerted the stewards.

After the race, the stewards looked at the data of Sainz and seven other drivers who may have opened their DRS or not slowed sufficiently. However, they decreed that all had in fact complied with the requirement to slow.

“I think it was eight, all in that area,” said race director Michael Masi when asked by Motorsport.com.

“We looked at it, and the overriding factor with double[-waved] yellow flags is the requirement to slow and significantly slow. And that's what we looked at with all of them. And all of them complied with that. Yes, a couple of them did activate DRS for a relatively short period of time, but I'll call it muscle memory!

“So the stewards looked at that and determined that no investigation was necessary, and that the overriding factor of slowing for double yellows was absolutely complied with.”

Read Also:

Masi acknowledged that drivers had been warned in the drivers’ briefing.

"The discussion on Friday was that the expectation is that DRS isn't used in a double yellow flag, but the overriding factor is to comply with the double yellow requirements. Because I think if you look at it, having DRS open is against the philosophy of slowing.”

Asked if the FIA might review the sporting regulations, possibly incorporating a reference to DRS, he said that it was already under discussion.

“It's something that we've already started discussing, you know, collectively, of that component of it, how we do it. I think the way that double yellows and so forth, and they required to effectively give up the lap in qualifying works well, in the race, obviously a little bit more difficult to do that. But it's something that certainly needs more refinement.

“It's one of those things, you can't make a rule to suit every situation is the reason why we have stewards to make a determination on things and the overriding factor is that they slow which they all did.”

The FIA system switches off the DRS for all drivers under a safety car situation, but it is not able to do it for a single DRS zone under waved yellows.

“There isn't the ability – and it's probably the other way - of isolating single DRS zones to turn them off. It's either they all get turned off or not. The technical reasons for it? If it was easy to have been done, it would have been done.”

shares
comments
Bottas faced with threat of grid drop for Abu Dhabi

Previous article

Bottas faced with threat of grid drop for Abu Dhabi

Next article

Carpenter ends Hulkenberg IndyCar speculation

Carpenter ends Hulkenberg IndyCar speculation
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Brazilian GP
Sub-event Race
Drivers Carlos Sainz Jr.
Author Adam Cooper
Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola Prime

Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track Prime

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

Mercedes may find itself leading the drivers' and constructors' standings after Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is well aware that it came against the odds, with Red Bull clearly ahead. Here's what the Brackley team must do to avoid its crown slipping .

Formula 1
Apr 16, 2021
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Prime

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is no guarantee.

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The themes to watch in F1's Imola return Prime

The themes to watch in F1's Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Prime

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. Ben Anderson looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Prime

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says Nigel Roebuck.

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now? Prime

Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021