Sainz gets three-place grid penalty for blocking Albon

Race stewards at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve have handed McLaren’s Carlos Sainz a three-place grid penalty for impeding a rival car during Saturday’s qualifying session for the Canadian Grand Prix.

The incident took place in the first round, when Sainz blocked Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon as the pair headed through turns 1 and 2.

“It is an incident I apologise for and the whole team apologises,” said Sainz later. “It ended up costing us three places.”

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Moments before their on-track encounter, Albon had let the McLaren through when it had been on a push lap and he himself had been preparing to start his fast run after the start-finish line, by which time Sainz had backed off.

“Albon was on a fast lap when he closed the gap to Sainz, who was driving slowly on the racing line at turn 2,” the official statement from the FIA reported.

“Sainz was on the radio with the team, talking about tyres. The team’s warning about Albon approaching was given too late. Because of this, Albon had to abort his lap.”

Despite being held up on that occasion, Albon was still able to put in a subsequent qualifying run and make it through to Q2.

“I didn’t really do a first big push, and then the next lap I had traffic,” he shrugged. “So I basically had one lap to get into Q2 and I didn’t think it would be enough. But when I saw [the time] I was like: ‘I’ll take that!!”

Albon went to qualify in 14th place for the race. Sainz made it all the way through the final round, and initially qualified in ninth place for Sunday’s race.

However the penalty means Sainz will now drop back to 12th. Adding to his problem will be having to start on the soft tyres he used to set his best time in Q2 rather than having a free choice of compound.

“Tomorrow we’re not starting where we wanted because of a penalty which is disappointing,” he said. “But I’m confident we have a good chance of moving forwards and getting some points.

“Our pace was encouraging so I look forward to tomorrow. I like this track and we’ll be ready to grab any opportunity out there.”

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