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Formula 1 Monaco GP

Norris: Sainz's Monaco F1 red flag reprieve “frustrating and unfair”

Lando Norris says it felt “frustrating and unfair” that Carlos Sainz got his original grid slot back for the Monaco Grand Prix restart because of Formula 1’s red flag rules.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sainz had initially picked up a puncture after a clash with Oscar Piastri at the first corner, and his car skidded to a halt and appeared to be out of the race at Casino Square.

But the pile-up involving Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and the two Haas cars brought out a red flag a few moments later, and served to give Sainz a lifeline.

According to F1’s sporting regulations, the order for the restart “will be taken at the last point at which it was possible to determine the position of all cars. All such cars will then be permitted to resume the sprint session or the race.”

While most cars had run through the first timing sector on the run down to Mirabeau before the red flag came out, the delayed Sauber of Guanyu Zhou had not – so the FIA determined that the order at safety car line two had to be used for the second attempt to get going.

That meant Sainz was effectively promoted from starting at the back to taking his original third spot on the grid, which he then duly converted into a podium finish.

For Norris, who had been running third before the red flag, seeing Sainz retake his P3 slot was not something he was happy about.

“I don't think it's the most fair thing, but I'm sure there's been moments in the past where maybe I've been fortunate from it and they could have they fixed the car a little bit or something like that,” he said.

“When you think of it in just a blunt way, it is frustrating and unfair, that because someone makes a mistake and because of a certain amount of cars or whatever, whatever the rule is, didn't cross the line before the red flag and blah, blah, that he gets to undo that mistake and gets a free pit stop. It's unfair.”

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Norris was not alone in thinking that the situation seemed hard to understand. MercedesGeorge Russell said: “It's not correct. I don't know what the ruling is exactly. But yeah, that was a bit strange.”

McLaren boss Andrea Stella was more considered about things, as he accepted that the rules were implemented in the right manner – but he acknowledged how lucky Sainz had been.

“In terms of the way in which the restart order was determined, I think what the FIA did was the best thing to do,” he said after the race.

“Also it is in agreement with the precedent, whereby you use the safety car line two when sector times are not available. I don't think using the mini sectors is a good way of doing that.

“Obviously, the whole point that saved Carlos was that Zhou had not crossed the sector time at the time the race was suspended. Lucky Carlos.

“I think he was lucky today and also with the lenient approach from the stewards, because the collision in corner one obviously created significant damage to Oscar's car - and this summed up yesterday's impeding [investigation].

“Like I say, lucky Carlos, this gained him a podium.

“We are happy for him but especially with yesterday impeding, we are still a little puzzled as to what the difference was between yesterday and Imola [when Piastri got a penalty for impeding].”

Oscar Piastri, McLaren F1 Team, 2nd position, Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, 1st position, Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 3rd position, on the podium

Oscar Piastri, McLaren F1 Team, 2nd position, Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, 1st position, Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 3rd position, on the podium

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Piastri significant damage

While Norris was unhappy about how things played out to allow Sainz to get ahead of him again, the red flag was actually good news for his team-mate Piastri who had picked up damage in his brush with the Ferrari driver.

Speaking after the race, Stella revealed that parts were broken on Piastri's car that would have hindered him by around half a second per lap.

“As soon as the collision happened, we observed the 20 [downforce] points down, which here in Monaco is about half a second,” he said.

“But then thanks to the red flag, we were in condition to make some repairs to the floor because the side wing of the floor was broken.

“We repaired it, we didn't fix it entirely, and we changed the sidepod that was broken as well. So overall, the deficit was about 10 points for the entire race, which is a couple of tenths – maybe 0.25s

“It obviously made us a bit more nervous about the possibility to keep the tyres in a good situation, in a good condition, because the car was a little damaged.

“But Oscar managed to do that and ultimately, the damage was not influential for the final result.”

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