French Grand Prix – Racing Point’s Sergio Perez says he did everything he was supposed to when he rejoined the circuit after going off on Lap 1.
Perez was battling solidly in the midfield when the rear of his Racing Point stepped out going through Turn 3. Going off into the escape area, Perez recovered control and veered left to go through the ‘penalty area’, which required him to go out wide and around a bollard specifically there to prevent drivers from rejoining the circuit too quickly.
Having completed the longer way around the corner, Perez rejoined still engrossed in the midfield battle. However, he was adjudged to have gained an advantage, due to the other drivers going more slowly than normal as they fought for position on the opening lap. He was thus given a five second time penalty, as well as a penalty point on his licence.
In their decision, the race stewards outlined: “Although Perez followed the procedure in the Race Director’s notes, he clearly gained positions when he re-joined the track at Turn 5 and retained this advantage. The Stewards reviewed whether Perez was forced off, and determined that this was not the case. Gaining an advantage is a breach of the Regulations and of the Race Director’s instructions (Point 10.6) which states that even if you follow the procedure you may only re-join the track without gaining a lasting advantage.”
Perez went on to finish P12, having used a one stop strategy running the Mediums until Lap 18 before swapping to Hard tyres to the flag. He said afterwards he felt the stewards made the wrong call with his penalty: “I don’t understand why I was penalised. I have to look at it properly, but I did what I’m supposed to do, which was to go around the bollards. The rule is that you have to come back on the track as soon as you go through the bollards, which is what I did. I think what they did is wrong, because I stuck to the rules. Whether or not I gained an advantage, for me it was impossible to judge – it was lap one and there were so many cars around. It’s supposed to be slower than the racing line so that you don’t gain an advantage, but if it isn’t it’s not my fault.”
“The penalty really hurt my race. We had the possibility to score some points today but this ruined it. We were a lot closer in terms of race pace, so that was promising. At the moment we are still struggling in qualifying and that’s where we must focus our attention to see what we can do better next week. Hopefully we can get back into the points in Austria.”