Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

Perez four penalty points away from race ban after ignoring red light

Formula 1

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Sergio Perez will spend much of the rest of the season four penalty points away from an automatic ban following his latest infraction in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was given a five-second time penalty for leaving his pit box in an unsafe fashion during today’s race. He pulled into the fast lane of the pits in front of Fernando Alonso, triggering a complaint by the Aston Martin driver.

After examining footage of the incident the stewards concluded Perez was at fault as he left his pit box before the team told him he could using their traffic lights. “Car 11 [Perez] was released from a pit stop in an unsafe manner,” they noted. “Car 14 [Alonso] had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

“What made the situation worse was the fact that car 11 left the pits when there was a red light shown to it (indicating that it should not go out of the pit box).”

Perez said it was “a shame that we got that penalty,” but “luckily it didn’t hurt our race.”

“I think in these scenarios, I was quite close to Max [Verstappen] and everyone was coming in at the same time, we just need a wider pit lane.”

The five-second time penalty made no different to Perez’s finishing position in the race, as he took the chequered flag second, 10 seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc. However his rapid accumulation of penalty points risks becoming a problem.

Any driver who collects 12 penalty points within 12 months receives an automatic one-race ban. Perez has collected eight points over the last 10 rounds, beginning in the Singapore Grand Prix last year. If he picks up another four over the coming 15 rounds he will earn a race ban.

Perez’s penalty points

2023 Singapore Grand Prix: Collision with Alexander Albon – one point
2023 Japanese Grand Prix: Overtook Fernando Alonso under Safety Car conditions – two points
2023 Japanese Grand Prix: Collision with Kevin Magnussen – two points
2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Collision with Lando Norris – two points
2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Unsafe release – one point

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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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27 comments on “Perez four penalty points away from race ban after ignoring red light”

  1. As we saw with Gasly, they’ll simply stop giving penalty points.

    Heck, Gasly ploughed into his own teammate ending both their races and causing a huge mess and the best the stewards could come up with was… a time penalty for Sainz for tapping Alonso’s wheel.

    They should have just scrapped the point system after Australia 2023. It was obvious before, but after that it’s just a joke.

    1. Absolutely, basically it’s been proven they will never let a driver reach 12 points, and let’s say by a miracle that happens, and take this season as an example: I’m sure verstappen can beat perez even if he gets a race ban and if perez gets a race ban he won’t be more of a threat than he is, and dare I say he probably won’t be troubled for 3rd either given how superior the red bull is.

    2. Thank you for making this the first comment. It’s quite a joke. It’s a bit like how a driver is 90% less likely to get a penalty if it’s going to ruin an amazing battle at the front.

    3. Yeah, it really is a farce.

  2. So a normal pit crew error should be 5 seconds (even that a bit light sometimes)
    But driving against red is super dangerous and should be harder penalties so that drivers don’t drive on pure instinct without looking.

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      10th March 2024, 5:03

      Where was this red light located? Was it actually on the pit stop gantry thingy or the end of the pitlane.

      If it was the end of the pit lane he was lucky as several years back it was a black flag

      1. No, only the pit box light system.

      2. AFAIK They’re taking about the ones at the pit box, controlled by the team, the equivalent of the old lollipop.

      3. Where was this red light located?

        In the pit box, as it says in the quote.

  3. It would be proper to also include the months those specific GPs were in, so that we know when each of them is no longer counted.

  4. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    9th March 2024, 23:04

    Should have been a drive through. I hate the penalty system.

    1. The fact that Magnussen got two 10-second penalties and was still able to control the backmarker pack’s pace, allowing his teammate a pitstop and a point, makes the bigger mockery of the penalty system IMO. It was canny driving by Magnussen but if the penalties had any effect whatsoever he wouldn’t have been in the position to affect anyone’s race, let alone that of five or six other cars.

  5. I hope it happens. Would like to see one of the other 3 get a run in the Red Bull for a race. Yuki’s pace over Ricciardo has me intrigued, as does Lawson running a race against Max.

    1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      10th March 2024, 17:11

      Max would crush all three of those drivers in his current car and in his current form. Perez is world class and he’d also likely beat those guys. If that seat opened up tomorrow only a handful of guys could get in and challenge Max and those drivers are in the other top teams. I’d love to see Sainz get that seat next year.

  6. Who is the spare driver for Red Bull, just in case Perez could not start a race?

    1. Liam Lawson. But likely that they would bring Ricciardo up from RB and put Lawson in the RB.

      1. Not when ricci is performing like his last two races.

  7. What an error by the light operator.

    1. The team traffic light system has a person overriding the lights to prevent an unsafe release, so in this case even though the wheel guns etc were green the person would have been holding the stop button showing a red light to Perez. Perez ignored for failed to check the light and left the pits, so 100% Perez’s fault. It’s the same as a driver, driving away with the lollypop sign down.

    2. Tommy Scragend
      10th March 2024, 12:14

      The light operator did not make an error. He/she held the light on red because Alonso was coming down the pit lane.

      The only error was by Perez for ignoring the red light and going anyway. It’s unfair to call this an “unsafe release” by Red Bull, because they didn’t release him.

  8. “Perez said it was “a shame that we got that penalty,” but “luckily it didn’t hurt our race.”” Surely he ment “luckily i didn’t hurt anyone in the pit lane…..”

    1. @theoddkiwi actually it was strategically the right decision. Given the traffic in the pitlane following the safety car, he might have lost more than 5 sec had he waited (as did Alonso). Does it make it right? No, and unfortunately they are sending the wrong signal once again.
      Teams at the front of a queue with an early pit box have a lot to lose during safety car as the queue of cars entering the pitlane might block them releasing for some time.

  9. The “12 penalty points within 12 months race ban” has as much teeth as the “107% qualifying rule.”

  10. Christian (@christianedward)
    10th March 2024, 16:57

    Unhappy about the lack proper of a penalty for Perez here.
    It encourages drivers to take a risk for track position, and puts other pits crews at more danger than they need to be in.
    Safety First please FIA.

    1. Would be helpful to know when some of the prior 8 points will be coming off his tally.

  11. “we just need a wider pit lane”

    Doesn’t this show a worrying misunderstanding of how pitlanes work? Alonso needed to be on the left so he could pit. It being wider not only encourages jostling for position but wouldn’t have made his release any less dangerous on this occasion.

  12. He almost hit the pit mechanic, not just Alonso. 5 seconds is an absurd penalty.

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