Red Bull ensured Sergio Perez avoided a grid penalty at the next round by sending him back onto the track 40 minutes after he originally retired from the race.
Perez’s race began to go awry when he incurred damage immediately after the start when he was pincered between Lewis Hamilton on his left and the two Ferraris to his right.
“He got off to a bad start,” said Horner. “He got sort of pinballed on the way down to turn one. That was unlucky for him. He then had damage, I think it was with Lewis, and broke the front wing.”
The stewards penalised Perez twice during the race, once for overtaking Fernando Alonso during a Safety Car period and again for colliding with Kevin Magnussen.
“He passed Fernando on the way in under the Safety Car, picked up another penalty, goes out, [was] a little bit too optimistic, probably out of frustration trying to pass Magnussen. Another front wing and the steering damage.”
The team decided Perez’s car was too badly damaged to keep him in the race and chose to retire it shortly after he returned to the track. However when it transpired Perez had been given a second five-second time penalty Red Bull chose to send him out again.
Doing so allowed Red Bull to make a pit stop and serve Perez’s penalty. By ensuring the penalty was served, the stewards would not have to issue a replacement for it, which would likely have taken the form of a grid drop for the next round.
“The only decent thing we managed to get out of today was not carrying a penalty through into the next race in Qatar,” Horner concluded.
Perez was already carrying some damage from the earlier incident when he collided with Perez, Horner confirmed. “He’d already done one front wing and a wheel hub and whatever. I haven’t seen a complete damage report but it’s possible that there could have been other damage.”
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