Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr was reported to the FIA for closing his father’s car door during the Dakar Rally.
Sainz Jr has been following the progress of his rallying legend father in Saudi Arabia, as Carlos Sainz Snr looks to take his fourth victory at the gruelling event at the age of 60.
Sainz Jr, a star of F1 and race winner in Silverstone last year, has been spotted as a guest of his dad in the Jeddah desert, but got a bit too close in the view of one FIA delegate.
An iconic photo was snapped of Sainz Jr watching his dad and his Audi Sport teammate Lucas Cruz fixing their Audi RS Q E-Tron E2 during the third stage of the race.
The image quickly went viral, and later, a video was released of Sainz Jr standing by the two drivers as they fixed the left rear suspension of their car, which only they are allowed to do during a stage.
After the drivers returned to their cockpit, the 28-year-old F1 star is seen helping close his dad’s car door, which was a bit of a struggle.
And one delegate reported the incident, claiming it was in breach of Article 49.2.1 which says ‘team personnel or any team conveyance (including helicopters) are not allowed within one kilometre of its competing vehicle’.
Despite caveats to the rule, the Sainzes successfully argued that Carlos ‘is not a member of the team’ and his actions were ‘not an initiative of the team or driver’.
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The FIA stewards accepted the explanation, saying there ‘was no evidence confirming a violation of the regulations in a legal sense’ but ended with a warning.
“In the name of popularising motorsport, raising prestige, competitors are encouraged to avoid any situations that may raise doubts,” they wrote.
“Of particular importance is the fact that very well-known people in motorsport set an example for everyone else.
“For the relationship between father and son would be very difficult to see as completely unrelated.
“In the stewards’ view, a very good example of avoiding questionable situations is when competitors participating in the FIA championships ask even completely unrelated people not to approach the crew members of the car of that crew, if this may raise doubts about the possible acquisition of an unfair advantage.”
Sainz Snr, a two-time World Rally champion, is competing in his 17th Dakar Rally this year, in search of his fourth title.
The damage to the rear suspension cost the Audi team over half an hour in their pursuit of leader Nasser Al-Attiyah.
The Dakar Rally is renowned as one of motorsport’s most dangerous and prestigious events, with the current edition taking part from December 31 to January 15.
The marathon coined its name as it used to finish in the capital city of Senegal, but it now takes place solely in the Middle East after a decade in South America.
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