Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2024

Penalty drops Perez to sixth on grid

Formula 1

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Sergio Perez has lost third place on the grid for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after receiving a three-place grid drop for impeding Nico Hulkenberg.

The Red Bull driver was deemed to have held his rival up at the penultimate corner, turn 13, in Q1.

The incident occured three minutes into the session, Perez was preparing to start his first push lap of qualifying in the final sector behind Esteban Ocon Alpine. As he rounded turn 11, his race engineer, Hugh Bird, gave him feedback on the status of his car.

“B-bal three. B-bal three. And brakes are looking good,” Perez was told. “Handbrake to open the lap. Recharge off when you’re ready.”

But as Perez prepared to round the tight left hander at turn 13, Hulkenberg suddenly approached from behind on his flying lap. Despite Bird issuing a late warning that Hulkenberg was “at one [second]” behind him, it was too late for Perez to move out of the way of the Haas.

Hulkenberg rounded turn 13 with the Red Bull directly ahead of him. “That was impeding by Perez, turn 13,” Hulkenberg said. “We’ve reported,” race engineer Gary Gannon replied.

The stewards noted the incident soon after and confirmed they would investigate after the session. Hulkenberg was eliminated at the end of Q1, while Perez went on to qualify third on the grid.

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After speaking with both drivers, the stewards determined that the Red Bull had been guilty of impeding the Haas driver, demoting Perez three places on the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

“Perez, who was on an out-lap, was at the apex of the turn and Hulkenberg had to leave the racing line to drive around him,” the stewards observed. “Hulkenberg was forced to lift the throttle early and brake early for that corner.

“In reviewing the audio from Perez’s car, the stewards observed that the team was focused on the car in front of Perez that had just slowed, and 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.

“While the stewards appreciate the dynamic situation facing the team and driver during the Q1 session, which was described in the hearing, the stewards find that Perez ‘unnecessarily impeded’ Hulkenberg and issue a three grid place drop, consistent with previous cases.”

Perez will therefore start sixth on the grid on Sunday. The penalty moves Lando Norris up to third, Charles Leclerc to fourth and Oscar Piastri to fifth.

There were no penalty points assessed for the incident. Perez remains on eight penalty points, four away from a potential one-race suspension.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “Penalty drops Perez to sixth on grid”

  1. Would be a bit more interesting if there weren’t 4 DRS zones for them to abuse. If someone as average as Perez gets P2 again after this we may as well close up shop till 2026.

    1. Average?… pfft. Perez has done good these races and during the weekend has been solid and close to Max. He comes from WDC runner up season. This is on Bird and the garage, they didn’t tell him on time

  2. Unsurprising, although the impediment went unseen on the world feed.
    Btw, do F1 cars really even have a handbrake per se?

    1. No, they don’t have a handbrake as in road cars. It’s just what Red Bull call their hand operated “brake magic” system to warm up the front tires.

  3. Why can the stewards not make decisions during the session? Surely Hulkenberg was either impeded or not which you’d be able to tell by footage and/or car data. Why would you need to hear the drivers view of it?

  4. Now, we’ve got unyielding drivers starting from sixth to eleventh…

  5. SAI in PER car next year?

  6. Perez did a decent qualifying, he looked controlled and not over aggressive like some of the drivers. Last year he had a nightmare here.
    Weird I never saw any team radio about the blocking. I agree with another commenter, they should deal with this stuff in session if possible.

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