until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Rightfully upset Perez warned for insulting stewards

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Sergio Perez overstepped in the heat of the moment by claiming the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards were “not at Formula 1 level” but his irritation was entirely understandable.

Perez’s five-second penalty for causing a collision with Lando Norris while trying to pass him in the final stint cost him a podium finish in the season finale.

He was later given a formal warning for a radio message to his Red Bull team after the race in which he accused the stewards of not being F1-standard.

For the Norris incident, the stewards determined that Perez “dived in late, missed the apex of the corner and understeered towards the outside of the corner”, hitting Norris.

He was annoyed, and baffled, by that decision - especially as Norris cut the corner as a result and stayed ahead, with Perez having to pass him a lap later in another separate attempt.

“To make contact you require both parties,” said Perez. “Lando also had some responsibility in that because he turned into me as if there was no one there.

“We ended up making contact tyre-to-tyre, as I was fully alongside him.

“He cut the corner, he gained time, and I still had the penalty.

“So, I honestly don't agree with the decision, but there is nothing you can do.”

The Race says

This incident smacked of needing to be dealt with a bit of a ‘no harm, no foul’ rationale.

It was a different example of the consequences not being taken into account when determining a penalty for an offence, and only the action itself - in this case Perez hitting Norris - being judged.

While there is some sound reason for that, it is not always the best way to handle a situation. Each incident is dealt with at the discretion of the stewards so an application of common sense on a case-by-case basis would seem appropriate as penalties do not always need to be dished out.

Asked by The Race if he felt sometimes a penalty was not necessary even if one driver is judged by the stewards to be to blame, because the situation resolves itself, Perez said: “Let's say he [Norris] didn't lose anything with it - if anything, he gained.

“But when you touch each other, to have that sort of contact you require both cars to do that, and I think he had some responsibility in it as well.

“In my opinion it was a 50/50 but he didn't end up losing anything, if anything he gained [from it].

“It’s hard to understand why I got the penalty if I'm totally honest.”

Perez ended up face-to-face with the stewards he disagreed with after the race, and the incident was discussed, but he was not actually there because of that.

Instead, he was summoned for breaching the International Sporting Code, likely because of this radio message: “We deserved the podium on track. But these stewards are not at Formula 1 level.”

This was deemed by the stewards to amount to “personal insult”, having summoned Perez to unusually deal with the matter themselves because this is the last race of the season, so it could not be referred to the panel of stewards at the next grand prix.

Perez made a “genuine and sincere apology” to each steward for what he allegedly described as “heat of the moment” comments that he did not think would be broadcast.

The stewards noted Perez is not known for making such comments and has “always been extremely respectful in stewards hearings”, and a “constructive discussion about the use and broadcast of team radio messages” was also held with Perez and Red Bull’s representative.

They also took time to review the incident with Norris, and while Perez still disagrees with the decision the stewards claim he “could understand” their perspective.

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