Carlos Sainz has avoided a penalty for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, confirming McLaren’s third-place finish in the constructors’ championship.
The stewards investigated Sainz’s driving in the pit lane as he briefly dropped below the speed limit, causing Lance Stroll to close up behind him. Sainz was following teammate Lando Norris into the pits during a safety car period and emerged just ahead of Stroll, going on to finish sixth — one place behind Norris — as McLaren overhauled Racing Point in the constructors’ standings.
While the incident happened early on, the stewards needed to see telemetry that was only available to them after the race and decided that there had been no intentional delaying of Stroll nor any instruction to slow down due to Norris pitting at the same time.
“Car 55 (Sainz) was advised by its team, that it was 2.4 seconds in front of Car 18 (Stroll) approaching the Pit Entry,” the stewards decision read. “There was no instruction by the team to slow down. On approaching the start of the Pit Lane Car 55 accelerated then as per normal practice, braked briefly to less than 80 km/h just prior to the line and then accelerated up to 80.
“This was exactly the same as Car 4 (Norris). (Car 18 also braked to below 80 prior to the line then accelerated up to 80 as it crossed the line).
“Within the Pit Lane, Car 55 was at 80 km/h for all but approximately 5 seconds when it dropped to no less than 70 km/h. We estimate this resulted in Car 55 arriving at the pit stop around 0.6 second later than if it had maintained a speed of 80 km/h. Therefore, we are not of the view that this action in any way resulted in the team avoiding a “double stack” situation as Car 4 was well clear of the pit stop at this time.
“We also accept the explanation of the driver of Car 55 that he was exercising a degree of caution as video evidence confirms the presence of a lot of other teams’ personnel in the Pit Lane at the time.
“Car 18 was able to maintain a speed of 80 km/h in the Pit Lane except for a very short period of time (approximately 1 second) and therefore we do not consider that it was materially impacted by the actions of the driver of Car 55. We also checked the relative speeds of the cars after leaving their pit stops and can see no evidence of Car 55 driving unnecessarily slowly.”
Only a disqualification for Sainz would have overturned the final constructors’ championship result, with McLaren’s confirmed points now seeing the team end the year in third place on 202 points, seven points clear of Racing Point after Stroll finished 10th.