until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Perez loses all Q3 times and Q2 best after track limits probe

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

Sergio Perez has been stripped of all the laps he completed in the final part of Austrian Grand Prix qualifying and his best Q2 time due to a track limits abuse in the second session.

Multiple drivers had times deleted through all three stages of qualifying with confirmation of their laptime deletion following shortly after they completed their illegal laps.

But unusually race control only sent notice that it was investigating Perez, who qualified fourth originally, for a breach at the sweeping Turn 8 right-hander after Q2 had ended.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Spielberg, Austria

The summons took place after qualifying finished, and the stewards concluded that Perez had exceeded the track limits on his fastest Q2 lap.

“Perez left the track at Turn 8 on his last flying lap of Q2, just prior to the end of the [Q2] session,” the stewards’ statement read.

“As this was not identified until the moment before Q3 started, the lap was not deleted prior to the start of Q3 and Perez started Q3.

“This is a consequence of having many situations to examine in each session. The video was clear and there is no doubt of the breach, which the team admitted.

“The team made the point that leaving the track at this point is not a clear advantage and brought data to support that point.

“However, the stewards considered that this was not a case of “gaining a lasting advantage”, but rather is “leaving the track without a justifiable reason”, which is another part of the same rule and which is the section that is being applied to qualifying sessions.

“This situation, where a driver moves through to a subsequent round of qualifying, and then is identified as having committed a track limits breach, does not happen regularly and certainly not recently.

“Thus the stewards have to examine this as a new situation.”

The document went on to explain that Red Bull argued it “expended resources to compete in Q3” and while this was accepted by the stewards, it wasn’t deemed to be different to any other situation.

As Perez would not have progressed to Q3 without his illegitimate Q2 lap, all of his Q3 efforts were deleted “in fairness to all the other competitors”, as was the effort in Q2 that got him through to the final part of qualifying.

As a result, he will start the sprint race from 13th place.

Perez said it was “disappointing to lose fourth place” but that he wanted to use the sprint race to “make up ground” and “put us in a good position for Sunday”.

“The track limits are very tight here this season, but it is frustrating that the team weren’t told my laptime had been deleted during Q2,” said Perez.

Team principal Christian Horner added: “We feel the penalty for Checo was very harsh and should have been dealt with before Q3 to enable us to improve subsequent performance.”

Mercedes driver George Russell was investigated for crossing the track and walking into the pitlane after he crashed at the final corner.

This is in breach of the rules as he did so “without the permission of the marshals” and while other cars were still on track.

The stewards handed him a warning.

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