With Sainz set to drop five positions for an engine change, Mercedes will lock out the front row of the grid for the first time this season for Sunday’s grand prix.
However, there was some doubt over Hamilton’s third-place finish when it was announced that he – along with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu – would be investigated after the sprint for an incident relating to the start procedure.
All three infringements were looked at and cleared by the Sao Paulo stewards, meaning no penalties were handed out.
“The Stewards reviewed the start sequence, as it was observed that multiple cars were potentially out of their grid box in violation of Article 8.6.1.a) of the FIA International Sporting Code, being either to the left or right of the grid box,” an FIA statement read.
“Having reviewed all available angles of video, and making measurements on the grid, the Stewards noted that the grid boxes were slightly smaller than usual and that the drivers’ visibility makes compliance extremely difficult and that no driver was in a position that gained any advantage.
“The Stewards are therefore satisfied to take no further action.”
Speaking before the investigation, Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said he felt the onboard footage showed Hamilton had stayed within his grid box.
“It may be linked to positioning in the box, but we’ve got the onboard, and it looks like we’re very, very conservative in where we positioned it in terms of the line,” Shovlin told Sky Sports after qualifying.
“Whether it was a sensor issue, I don’t know. From the images we’ve seen, there doesn’t look to be any hint that we were outside of that box.”
Relief for Gasly but Stroll penalised
Pierre Gasly avoided moving closer to triggering an automatic one-race ban following a stewards’ investigation.
The Frenchman was issued with just a formal warning for driving unnecessarily slowly during a reconnaissance lap before the start of Saturday’s sprint race.
Gasly is on the verge of becoming the first F1 driver to receive a race ban for accumulating 12 penalty points over a 12-month period, but the AlphaTauri driver remains on 10.
Meanwhile, Lance Stroll was handed a 10-second time penalty and three penalty points on his licence for forcing Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel off the road in a “dangerous manner”.
The Canadian now has a total of eight penalty points on his licence for the current 12-month period.