Ferrari's Carlos Sainz left speechless after 'most unfair penalty I've ever seen' at the Australian Grand Prix
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The 2023 Australian Grand Prix was a tough watch for Ferrari fans, as neither Charles Leclerc nor Carlos Sainz were able to score a single point for the Italian F1 team.
Sunday's (April 2) race was defined by two controversial red flag restarts, both of which shook up the grid and cost some drivers dearly.
One man who missed out big time as a result of the second red flag was Sainz, who up until then had been driving an impressive race.
The Spaniard had climbed up from P9 to P4 by the time Haas driver Kevin Magnussen smashed into the wall on the 55th lap - bringing a temporary halt to the Grand Prix at Albert Park.
At the standing restart, Sainz outbreaked himself and in the process took out his countryman and former idol Fernando Alonso, who was sent into a spin.
However, confusion soon engulfed the paddock, as a series of incidents at the first two corners meant that the red flag came out for a third time.
Despite the lap after the restart not being completed, Sainz was nonetheless slapped with a five-second penalty for his careless maneuver.
Normally, a five second penalty would see a driver lose a position or two, but with the race finishing behind the safety car - and thus all of the pack being bunched up - Sainz went from P4 to P12 - failing to score a single point.
Speaking after the race, the Ferrari man could not hide his upset and anger.
He told Sky F1: "I think it is the most unfair penalty I've ever seen in my life.
"Before talking and saying any really bad stuff or bad words, I'd prefer to go back to the stewards, have a conversation with them and maybe I can come back and talk again.
"Because right now honestly I cannot do it, I think it is too unfair and I don't feel well to speak."
The stewards moved quickly to defend their penalty decision immediately after the chequered flag was waved.
"Car 14 [Alonso] was significantly ahead of Car 55 [Sainz] at the first corner and nevertheless Car 55 drove into Car 14, causing it to spin and leave the track," they stated.
The nature of the second red flag restart had commentators and pundits alike scratching their heads wondering what the protocol would be given that only two laps remained at the time.
Some drivers were highly critical of the decision of the stewards to restart the race with so few laps remaining, instead of just ending the race behind the safety car. The biggest casualty of the red flag restart was Alpine, whose two drivers crashed into each other - and out of the race - at turn two.
The stewards added in their justification of Sainz's penalty: "For avoidance of doubt, we took into account the fact that this collision took place at the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the Stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents.
"However, in this particular case, notwithstanding the fact that it was the equivalent of a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for Car 55 to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so."
Ferrari will hope their luck improves next time out in Baku, with the Scuderia failing to register a podium so far in the 2023 F1 season.