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Sainz Stunned by Grid Penalty After Dramatic Drain Cover Incident at F1

LAS VEGAS–Carlos Sainz said he had paid the price for Formula One’s shortcomings after a loose drain cover wrecked his Ferrari and triggered a 10 place grid penalty at the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Friday. Thursday’s first practice lasted only eight minutes before Sainz’s car hit the metal cover in a storm of sparks. Race stewards turned down the Italian team’s request for penalty-free repairs because they said they were obliged to apply the regulations as written. The Ferrari’s survival cell, engine, energy store, and control electronics were all damaged beyond repair. Drivers are allowed two energy stores for the season and Spaniard Sainz will now be on his third, triggering an automatic 10 place penalty. Sainz took part in second practice, finishing second fastest behind teammate Charles Leclerc, and he hailed his mechanics for an ‘heroic’ effort. The joy at getting back on track then evaporated when the team told him of the penalty. Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur said the incident was “unacceptable”. McLaren boss Zak Brown sympathised with Ferrari and said he would have supported a waiver. “You’ve got to say that’s force majeure, that’s nothing of their own doing,” he told Sky Sports television. “A very unfortunate and unique incident. I was a bit surprised to see that.” The Spaniard said there would be overtaking opportunities but he was too upset to discuss what might happen. Identifying a clear example of how the sport can be improved in so many ways, he expressed his disappointment with the FIA, teams, and rules, highlighting the need for support instead of worsening his situation.