until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Perez loses third on Australian GP grid with impeding penalty

by Matt Beer, Edd Straw
2 min read

Red Bull faces at least a small inconvenience to overcome in its pursuit of a third straight 1-2 at the start of the 2024 Formula 1 season with Sergio Perez having been demoted from third to sixth on the Australian Grand Prix grid for impeding Nico Hulkenberg.

The stewards’ ruling on the incident - which happened in Q1 at the tight Turn 13 right-hander in the final part of the lap - said Haas driver Hulkenberg “was forced to lift the throttle early and brake early” while on a qualifying lap, having encountered Perez’s Red Bull moving slower on the apex of the corner while on an out-lap.

Red Bull “did not give Perez a warning that Hulkenberg was behind him until one second before Hulkenberg arrived, and significantly too late to avoid impeding Hulkenberg” because it had been “focused on the car in front of Perez that had just slowed”, the ruling continued.

Perez drops from third to sixth on the grid as a result, elevating Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc and Oscar Piastri one position each.

Hulkenberg had expressed his disgruntlement about the incident after qualifying.

“He was having a Mexican siesta, I think,” he said of Perez.

“He wasn't looking in the mirror, the closing speed coming around Turn 12 is so quick now. If you're not paying attention enough it happens very easily and quickly. But of course it shouldn't happen.”

But he didn’t feel Perez was the reason he was only 16th on the grid, as Haas suffered its first Q1 exit of 2024, as the impeding had happened on an earlier run.

“The final run was not a clean lap unfortunately,” said Hulkenberg when asked by The Race about his last Q1 effort.

“I was up on myself but then out of Turn 7 the wind somehow changed and I lost more than a tenth on the straight somehow compared to myself, and then something happened in Turn 9, I went in a little bit too fast, overloaded the front tyre and for the rest of the lap had a lot of understeer and lost all the laptime I had gained up until that point.

“Not the cleanest of quali days.”

Although Perez has finished second to Verstappen in both 2024 F1 races so far, he has always had to come from further behind to get there having not yet made the front row this season.

He started only fifth in Bahrain and third in Saudi Arabia.

“Definitely there was a bit more in it,” Perez said of his Australia qualifying effort, before the penalty was applied.

“My first sector was not great, especially Turn 1. On my final attempt I didn't hook up the whole combination, which straight away is a tenth, a tenth-and-a-half.

“But I'm happy. Given how we've been during the weekend, it's been a very nice progression. Tomorrow we’ve got a fight on our hands to the Ferrari and to the rest of the field because I think the degradation is going to be very high. So I think starting position is not that relevant at the moment.”

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