Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2022

Perez drops nine places on grid after losing lap times over track limits breach

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez with start Saturday’s sprint race from 13th on the grid after the stewards deleted all his lap times from Q3 and his best lap from Q2.

The Red Bull driver was found to have violated track limits at turn eight on his final lap during Q2. Other drivers who committed the same violations had their lap times deleted.

However, Perez’s infringement was not noticed by stewards until after the Red Bull driver had begun to take part in Q3. The stewards therefore took the unusual step of deleting all his lap times from that session, as well as the lap time from Q2 on which he left the track.

Perez originally qualified fourth on the grid. Having lost all his times he will instead lined up 13th.

“Perez left the track at turn eight on his last flying lap of Q2, just prior to the end of the session,” the stewards noted. “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,” they added. The stewards recorded a total of 16 track limits infringements at four different corners, excluding Perez’s.

Red Bull argued Perez had not gained a clear advantage by cutting the inside of turn eight, but the stewards ruled this was not sufficient grounds not to issued a penalty.

“The video was clear and there is no doubt of the breach, which the team admitted,” the stewards added. “The team made the point that leaving the track at this point is not a clear advantage and brought data to support that point.

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“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.”

The fact Perez had already proceeded to the next round of qualifying due to the lap on which he committed the violation created a new precedent, the stewards argued.

“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 team made the point that they took both risk and expended resources to compete in Q3. The stewards accept this point. However, in assessing a penalty after a session, this is no different than any other situation.

“The usual penalty is deleting the lap time concerned, and the stewards order the same penalty here. However, as a consequence, the driver would not have proceeded into Q3 and therefore, in fairness to all the other competitors, the stewards order that all the lap times for Q3 for the driver also are deleted.”

Having lost all his Q3 times and his best Q2 time of 1’05.805, Perez therefore qualified 13th with a lap time of 1’06.458.

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2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Perez drops nine places on grid after losing lap times over track limits breach”

  1. Interesting penalty, and probably the right one, but there is an obvious inconsistency with situations where a driver impedes another earlier in qualifying but then gets through to the next session. They’ll get a grid penalty, but still end up ahead of where they would have been had they not impeded a rival and potentially incriminating them.

    1. someone or something
      8th July 2022, 21:10

      Not really, I’d say. The major difference consists in the fact that they were able to determine where Pérez would’ve ended up if they had sanctioned his leaving the track immediately, and thus could relegate him to that grid position.
      For impeding, things start to get a lot more hypothetical, and it’s not the impeding driver’s result that’s been brought about by breaking the rules. Therefore, impeding usually leads to a punishment for the impeding driver that’s roughly equivalent to the severity of his misbehaviour (while the impeded driver gets nothing), but has nothing to do with the result(s) that could’ve or should’ve been. Precisely because it’s impossible to know where the impeded driver could’ve qualified.
      In Pérez’s case however, it was relatively easy to see where he would’ve qualified. The only remaining injustice is that Gasly, the driver who would’ve progressed into Q3 in Pérez’s stead, didn’t get the chance to take part in Q3. But this is also consistent with other situations, in which there cannot be a compensation for a disadvantaged driver.
      In a way, penalties can only serve to discourage breaking the rules and to prevent rule breakers from gaining an advantage. But they cannot create justice.

      1. This might be fair to Perez, but not fair to Gasly.

        As they ‘noted’ it before Q3 started, and it takes only a split second to confirm he actually did leave the track (we all saw it live), then they should’ve allowed Gasly to enter Q3. In this case probably delaying Q3 by a few minutes to allow Alpha Tauri to prepare the car.

        1. someone or something
          10th July 2022, 14:07

          This might be fair to Perez, but not fair to Gasly.

          Yes, but like I said: Penalties cannot create justice for the disadvantaged driver. That’s impossible.

  2. I immediately noticed him crossing the white lines with full car width on live footage, so stewards should’ve too, but good thing they corrected their error for sporting fairness by nullifying his entire Q3 running alongside the relevant lap itself.
    Good, they also acknowledged the fact leaving the track at that point is disadvantageous lap time & speed-wise, although they’d have fewer situations to examine each segment if they limited lap time invalidation to the only two corners where off-track excursion can actually be advantageous, i.e., the last two as per the approach under both Whiting & Masi & the same with all other tracks – only corner or corners where an actual advantage is possible (for example corners with gravel & or grass runoffs aren’t among those).
    I’ve already made this point & while applying the rule universally might be entirely consistent, so would limiting enforcement to truly-advantageous situations rather than also when so-called sleeping policemen already do the job.

    I may have been critical of Masi’s excessive TL enforcement over the last two seasons, but at least he never did lap time invalidation for driving over gravel or grass (except Mexico’s T1-3 runoff area), which is automatically slower than staying on track.

  3. Really bad decision by the stewards. They should have ruled it a track violation in Q2. Now Perez have used 2 set of soft tires in Q3 for nothing! Will he get 2 set of new red tires back?

    1. Well Red Bull could have honed up at the time and had Perez’s time deleted… but of course they wouldn’t do that. Only themselves to blame there, ridiculous you want him handed brand new tires.

      1. *owned up. Not sure what I was thinking there.

        1. Come on every team would have done what RBR has done if they were in the same situation let’s be honest here. It’s up to the FIA to make a decision not RBR. Also very unfair to Gasly who didn’t had a shot at Q3!

      2. That’s what I thought, too. Surely Perez and Red Bull, with all the data available to them, knew that he’d exceeded track limits. If so, they knew he should not have progressed to Q3, so their waste of tyres was their own choice.

  4. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    8th July 2022, 20:53

    If you’re gonna monitor track limits, do it EVERYWHERE properly. They put a camera so they can exactly see turn 9 and 10, so why not this one? FIA being bums again…

    1. @barryfromdownunder

      If you’re gonna monitor track limits, do it EVERYWHERE properly.

      They are though?

  5. The right decision should have been made at the time, but it wasn’t. This rectifies that, so as far as I’m concerned that’s fair enough.

    The problem is Formula 1 still using artificial means to impose track limits. Narrower circuit margins are needed so drivers can’t go fully off the track in their two-metre-wide cars and gain an advantage.

    It’s up to the circuit owners to sort that out, and who owns this track? Red Bull.

    1. Correct penalty, but it cost Gasly a chance to participate in Q3. Well, likely he would have finished ahead of Hamilton but instead Gasly starts just behind Hamilton. Not too much of a loss, in spite a place, but who knows what could have happened had Gasly been in Q3. Possibly one of the worst track extension or corner cut recently. Reminded me of Vettel exceeding track limits at Silverstone in 2014 at the last corner.

    2. @keithcollantine
      The way race control/the stewards handled the situation was very bad. It shouldn’t matter how many track limits violations there were in Q2, it’s their job to investigate every single one of them. Maybe race control should give themselves a little bit more time to check everything before they move on to the next part of qualifying.
      The Pérez incident also raises the follwing question: Do RB get a fresh set of softs back, which Checo used in Q3? (I know, highly unlikely.) Theoretically, he hasn’t made it into Q3 and now he’s at a disadvantage to the other drivers who got knocked out in Q2.

      I undestand the problem with artificial track limits, however the RB Ring doesn’t just hold car races, but motorcycle races as well. Cars could cope with higher kerbs and more grass around, but motorcycles probably wouldn’t. Motorcycles need very flat kerbs, because higher ones would unsettle the bikes and possibly cause some big accidents (i.e. MotoGP uses a completely different kerb at the final corner here, which is very flat and a couple of meters inside the track).
      Is that really up to the circuit owners to change though?! Shouldn’t it be at least mandated by the FIA or actually done by them?! As I was saying, the RB Ring has to meet several demands for several racing categories: single seaters, touring cars, motorcycles, Rallycross, track days with special sports cars or regular road cars;
      It’s rather difficult to meet everyone’s safety demands for the track owner isn’t it?! I believe the racing organizations (FIA, Dorna, DTM, etc.) should be responsible for the major safety aspects of a racing circuit, including putting the right kerbs in the right places to avoid track limits abuse.

    3. Red Bull may own the track, but the FIA’s role is to administrate competitions held on it.
      The FIA clearly states what their definition of the track limit is at all circuits that F1 visits, and (thankfully) they have enforced that here.
      What the FIA don’t do, is design racing circuits.

      And really? Artificial track limit? What’s natural about any part of a motorsports competition or racing circuit?
      What a bizarre point of view.
      I can’t believe (yes I can) that the same people who argue for consistency in F1 also argue against it. White lines are used at every FIA-graded circuit to define the track for a very specific and deliberate reason…. It doesn’t matter what’s beyond the line, because that’s not part of the track.

  6. I think stewards made the right decision and this sets a good precedent.

    Teams are monitoring their drivers all the time, so they know if their driver has gone off the track. I’m sure Red Bull knew also. In the future, every team knows that even if the stewards initially miss a track limit violation, the lap time will eventually be deleted and they can take that into account already during the qualifying.

  7. I thought it a bit odd that in other cases the stewards deleted times within seconds, but in this case it took them minutes. I thought it a bit weird at the time really. Glad they’ve partially rectified it now, but still not really fair for the 11th placed driver in q2.

  8. Gasly has every right to feel that he has been badly treated.

    Were the FIA boys club to busy to watch what was actually happening on track?

    1. Perez has also wasted two sets of soft tyres. So actually, the penalty feels slightly more severe. Unless the FIA decide to reallocate the sets. But yes, that was crazy from the stewards.

      They said they were observing other drivers, but that reasoning appears to be silly. Get some manpower. We here also want to work in F1. If they need manpower and more personnel, hire more LMAO

  9. Bit of a Abu Dhabi vibe going on at the FIA here. Because they couldn’t make a proper decision and enforce the rules within the time constraints (couldn’t they have postponed Q3 a few minutes to come to a proper solution?), Gasly has been badly treated (and I can see the tyre issue for Perez mentioned above being an argument too). The stakes weren’t quite as high as in AD, but it doesn’t give me confidence that they actually did improve anything.

  10. I am more to the rule: If you are allowed to go to FP3 then it is done. Times from FP2 cannot be changed after FP3 starts. Just too late, they should have waited to start FP3 and check first.

  11. As it should be.

  12. The whole track limits thing is terrible for the sport. Either have on board automated detection on each car, or get rid of the paved run offs so exceeding track limits kills the lap. So many laps deleted in this qualifying session its pretty hard to watch. Also in the sprint and race, the punishments as they are can’t be enforced in any meaningful way. End of rant.

    1. I’m with you. Consistency (and sporting regs) be damned, I liked it when drivers were allowed to get up onto the kerbs. At least there was some physical consequence and risk—perhaps it would upset the car or break a piece of the floor. Watching the world’s fastest cars and best drivers engage in a contest to drive between painted lines is rather underwhelming to me.

      1. Watching the world’s fastest cars and best drivers engage in a contest to drive between painted lines is rather underwhelming to me.

        Watching a series that can’t even apply their own rules is extremely underwhelming to me.
        If these are ‘the best’ drivers then they should have no trouble learning to stay on what is defined as the track.
        That’s just one of the many factors that separates the good from the not-so-good.

        1. Watching a series that can’t even apply their own rules is extremely underwhelming to me. If these are ‘the best’ drivers then they should have no trouble learning to stay on what is defined as the track.

          To each their own. If that is your standard, then I would grant that these are not necessarily ‘the best’ drivers in the world. There may well be a different set of 20 drivers that would be better at driving between painted lines, who have the temperament and the aversion to risk to drive between painted lines more consistently than the ones in F1.

          I’d rather watch the second- or third-‘best’ set of 20 drivers compete in race cars on proper racing circuits then watch the 20 best drivers take a glorified car park driving test.

  13. Ferrari strategists and the FIA stewards having a competition to find out who really is more incompetent.

  14. It seems a bit unfair to let him waste tyres in Q3 and then delete all the times. It’s right that if he went off the track, his lap shouldn’t count but it’s absolutely insane that a sport with so much cutting edge technology can’t find a way to tell if a car has gone off the track or not automatically.

    Surely they could at the very least, have an automatic system that sends the stewards a notification that a car went off the track. They can then check it manually if they need to. The next qualifying session can be delayed a few minutes if they have a few incidents to look at.

    Sergio absolutely deserves to lose the lap but it’s a stewarding mistake that has put him at a further disadvantage.

    1. Keith C (not that one)
      9th July 2022, 3:54

      You don’t need “cutting edge technology” though. I saw it on the F1TV feed and was a bit amazed no-one brought it up. I think they were too busy chatting. Stewards too?

      1. I saw it on the F1TV feed and was a bit amazed no-one brought it up.

        I was listening to BBC 5 live commentary, and they did bring it up. They were amazed nothing had been mentioned, then picked up on the “noted”.

        As to Perez having “wasted two sets of tyres” – my heart bleeds.
        Perhaps he and RB could pop along and ask Gasly to loan him one of the sets he didn’t get to use? I think the response might possibly register with RB about who did wrong and who was wronged. Gasly would definitely be starting in front of Hamilton and possibly in front of Alonso.

        Maybe the gaps between Q sessions should be extended if infringements are noted? At least the stewards set a precedent for dealing with this kind of situation which might encourage better observance of limits.

    2. There is a much better and much less complicated solution: Build tracks where you automatically get penalized when going off track.

  15. Too late.
    If the sanction was applied at the right time, Gasly would have been in Q3.

  16. Shambolic decision imo, glad to see I’m not the only one (though we seem to be the minority) who thinks it was bad and that it should’ve been done within a reasonable time (q2).

  17. The stewards were deleting lap times instantaneously during the day except for this one Red Bull that was clearly outside the limits. Seems like at least one of the stewards was trying to assist Red Bull. Wondering which teams quietly protested this “delayed” ruling.

  18. One of the several things i hate about these sprint weekends is how it reduces the penalty for mistakes in qualifying and also in those instances takes action away from the main GP on Sunday.

    Sergio, Lewis & George all made mistakes that have them qualified further down the order. Yet they will all b able to recover places in the sprint which renders those mistakes less of an issue than they would be on a normal weekend where qualifying sets thw grid for the GP.

    And additionally them most likely recovering at least some of those places in the sprint is racing action been taken away from the main GP which is tacing we would be seeing in the GP on a normal weekend.

    That just takes quite a bit of the tension and jeapody out of qualifying for mewhich just makes the qualifying sessions on these sprint weekends feel that bit less interesting and exciting.

  19. I’m just delighted that they finally seem to be enforcing track limits everywhere. Long overdue.
    If it didn’t get them and advantage, they wouldn’t the there.
    It probably didn’t gain him anything at the point he went off, but by straight lining it he may have gained at the previous or next section.
    I want to see this, at every track and with every car, all the time.

    1. Agree 100%.
      Quite tired of the F1 free-for-all when it comes to sporting regs. Nothing makes F1 look more amateur than not enforcing their own rules.
      The track is clearly defined. If you drive somewhere else, you should be penalised for it.

  20. Can I say how much more civil the comments section is here than other sites like the one with Motorsport in it’s name?

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