Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

Stewards were too soft on Red Bull’s Perez tactics to discourage copycats

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For those watching on television, Sergio Perez’s Canadian Grand Prix was clearly over once he backed his Red Bull into the turn six barrier on the 51st lap.

The rear wing of his RB20 was smashed and what remained of it was hanging off the back of his car as he pulled away. However the driver appeared to believe his damage was confined to his suspension, and perhaps even hoped he’d got away with nothing more than a puncture and might be able to continue in the race after a pit stop.

Red Bull could see the full picture however, which meant their response was highly significant when Perez asked whether he should try to return to the pits. “Bring it back, bring it back,” said his race engineer Hugh Bird.

The FIA clamped down years ago on teams allowing their drivers to circulate with parts hanging off their cars. There was a spate of cases in 2022 involving parts considerably smaller than a rear wing, such as Fernando Alonso’s wing mirrors in Austin and Kevin Magnussen’s front wing end plates at several venues.

In Perez’s case, his damaged car clearly posed a hazard to other drivers as parts were falling off it. What’s more, Red Bull were obviously aware of this as they warned his race-leading team mate Max Verstappen to beware of debris at turn 10, Gianpiero Lambiase telling him: “a bit of debris around the track at turn 10, Max.”

He glossed over the detail that the debris was from the other RB20. As Perez headed towards the final corner, where cars at full speed hit well over 300kph, he was warned Verstappen was only six seconds behind him. Had his rear wing chosen that moment to break free the consequences for his team mate or his pursuers could have been serious.

Drivers in damaged cars are routinely told by their teams to park up as they are well aware failing to do so will result in a penalty for driving in an “unsafe condition”. Drivers with obviously loose wheels are invariably told to stop before leaving the pits.

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One of the few exceptions to this occured at Imola, where Alexander Albon was cleared of driving his car in an unsafe conditions after his pit stop. In his case the stewards noted there had been no sign anything had gone wrong during his pit stop and the stewards agreed with Albon’s view that the wheel appeared to still be “captured by the wheel nut”, and therefore not at risk of coming off. Red Bull’s situation was different.

Safety Car, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Red Bull were anxious to avoid another Safety Car period
According to the stewards, during their hearing Red Bull revealed the reason for telling Perez to drive back instead of stopping by the side of the track. “The driver had been advised to bring the car back to the pits as they were trying to avoid a Safety Car situation.”

With Perez inevitably out of the race, the only reason Red Bull would want to avoid triggering the deployment of the Safety Car is to protect Verstappen’s pursuers from being able to close on him or make pit stops for fresh tyres. This is what happened when the Safety Car was deployed due to another incident a lap later.

It’s not uncommon for teams to warn drivers not to risk compromising their race-leading team mates by triggering a Safety Car period. While Lando Norris was on his way to the first victory of his career in Miami, his team mate Oscar Piastri was given this message by his race engineer, Tom Stallard: “Oscar, reminder, Lando is leading the race. We do not want to cause a Safety Car here.”

Telling a driver not to take too great a risk in the heat of battle is one thing. But telling a driver not to park up a car which is a potential safety hazard is a different matter. The stewards recognised this, which was why they both fined Red Bull and gave Perez a penalty for the next race.

“The stewards determine that, as well as a financial penalty for the team, a sporting penalty is necessary due to the safety implications of the incident,” the stewards noted. They also added: “The penalty is imposed in line with precedents.”

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But in this case a new precedent was needed. Although the stewards understood the decision was made to favour Red Bull’s leading car, neither of the penalties issued affected it.

The stewards should have asked themselves whether, in a close championship fight, a team would be discouraged from using similar tactics by a $25,000 fine and grid drop for their contender’s team mate. Clearly they wouldn’t.

This is not to say Verstappen should necessarily have had a penalty yesterday. The stewards have previously used their decisions to recommend the FIA create suitable rules to tackle new trends in infringements.

Teams are so sensitive to the opportunities and threats presented by Safety Car periods that significant opportunity exists for the rules to be exploited in a close championship fight. Here was an opportunity for the stewards to make the case that teams who commit an infringement with one driver in order to benefit the other should expect a penalty for both.

This needs to be considered, because given the correct circumstances the temptation to use tactics like this could be extremely high. Consider, for example, if Mercedes had used Valtteri Bottas to ensure the Safety Car remained out for the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi 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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104 comments on “Stewards were too soft on Red Bull’s Perez tactics to discourage copycats”

  1. I think it would be okay for Perez to have moved the car if he was unaware of the damage. However, once he started to move it, it must have been obvious to him that it was badly damaged, as evidenced by the way he crawled around the track, and it was also very obvious to the pit wall getting the TV feeds. If he was just a couple of corners from the pit entry, again I’d say it was probably okay to get it back there, or to get it to the next off-track refuge. But Perez seemed to be driving around most of the lap. Surely there must have been somewhere he could have parked it safely. If there was opportunities for him to get it safely off track and he didn’t, then yes, the punishment should have been harsher. If there were no safe spaces around the track, then someone should be asking why not. Why do we have circuits where drivers cannot find a way to get a damaged car safely off track?

    1. If there were no safe spaces around the track, then someone should be asking why not. Why do we have circuits where drivers cannot find a way to get a damaged car safely off track?

      I think there were, but still there was a possible chance of a SC deployment to get Perez’ car fully behind the barrier. And with Verstappen leading, Red Bull didn’t want to cause a SC with Perez.

    2. AlanD I agree that everything would’ve or should’ve been okay had he already been close to the pit entry, but driving roughly half a lap with a noticeably damaged car was simply excessive.
      The track has enough orange-marked holes, although VSC, at the very least, would’ve still been possible.

  2. Driving a car back rather than causing a safety car should be the norm instead of the exception. I don’t see a case for morality either, of course Red Bull wanted to prevent a safety car, they’re a team and this is a team sport. This isn’t a case of “we’re causing a safety car on purpose” or anything like that, Perez had some damage from a spin, and his car was perfectly capable of driving back to the pits on its own.

    Now had there been some kind of real hazard from a rear wing that might maybe sometime at some point have fallen off of the car at the track, you can call a safety car then for that case. Or maybe a VSC if need be. But since that didn’t happen, no safety car was needed and we could happily keep enjoying the actual racing on track instead of 10 minutes of safety car running.

    Reply moderated
    1. While I agree that driving back to the pits worked be the norm, it already is. But when the car is dangerous to drive back it shouldn’t be. That was the case here. The entire day won’t could have come off at any point, onto a live track and into the path of a car passing at high speed. They put lives at risk just to try to avoid a SC which might make things a bit more difficult for their other driver.

      1. Ooof, all the errors!

        While I agree that driving back to the pits should be the norm, it already is. But when the car is dangerous to drive back it shouldn’t be. That was the case here. The entire rear wing could have come off at any point, onto a live track and into the path of a car passing at high speed. They put lives at risk just to try to avoid a SC which might make things a bit more difficult for their other driver.

      2. Who decides whether something is dangerous or not?

        A front wing could come off at any point after contact- see Hungary 2005, Alonso DC. Does that mean any contact or loose fitting is a retirement at the next marshal post?

        1. These are the current rules. It is up to the teams to determine if something is dangerous, and then for the stewards to penalise them if they disagree.

          I believe the approximate thinking is that it is dangerous is a reasonably large part is likely to come away from the car. A front wing end fence is fine, as it isn’t considered large or heavy enough to do any significant damage. A wing which appears to still be securely attached is fine, even though there is a small chance that that the damage has caused a structural weakness and it could break away later. An entire wing hanging off, as with Perez’, is likely to come off at any point and it’s just dumb luck that it didn’t end up right in the path of another car.

          1. From what I see the wing itself did not become detached. How can the team determine if it’s safe without the car in their custody? From what I can see, there was no suspension damage.

            My concern here is that Sainz has a significant contact in the same corner on the same lap, which for all we know could have damaged the floor, wing or diffuser. Sainz returned to the pits. How can the stewards determine how significant the damage is from an aerial shot?

            Perez should be encouraged to return to the pits for inspection at the first opportunity and at a sensible pace. He did that. We can’t have the stewards telling teams to retire cars. Either the car is capable of racing or it should return to the pits. Had Perez continued round for multiple laps, in a hope to drop debris and cause a SC, then of course he should be penalised.

            If I think back to Baku 18 for Alonso or Austria 16 for Rosberg – will the stewards DSQ these drivers for not immediately stopping? If the car can be fixed, ie Baku 18 – should we expect a 5s penalty for returning the car to the pits? It’s totally unenforceable and rife for abuse.

          2. The rear wing was hanging off! It was plainly obvious to everyone that it was dangerous, that it could fall off at any moment. This isn’t “there may be damage we can’t see”, it was flapping around all over the place, barely still attached!

          3. I’m not sure it was dangerous. It was loose and flapping, we see that with front wings and barge boards every race. From what I can see it remained intact – small shards of carbon fibre can be dangerous surely but I’m not having loose items of bodywork being an automatic retirement or DSQ. I think that would open a can of worms we’d never close as cited in the examples above. The stewards should ensure that he return to the pits at reduced pace which he satisfied.

            Let me put it another way. Had that been Max and the SC came out for the Sainz incident, I think they could have repaired the wing in under 30s and he may have got points. When Alonso brought the car back in Baku he continued with a new wing and tyres – scored 6 points. At the end of the year there were 14 points between McLaren, FI and Sauber.

            We have to decide if the stewards remit is to tell teams to retire in the event they litter the track – I’ve never seen that in motor racing history.

    2. 100%. As we discussed ad nauseam in the other thread, this and F1’s never ending investigations for silly things from a nose in the pit lane to crossing a track on foot (if a driver cannot be trusted to look both ways and safely run across a track in 2 seconds, they shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car at 200mph+) or how a VSC, SC or RF is thrown no matter how safely pulled off track, out of the firing line or far through a gap in the fence a car is.

      1. if a driver cannot be trusted to look both ways and safely run across a track in 2 seconds, they shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car at 200mph+

        If a driver trying to cross the track needs to look both ways then there are bigger problems than someone on foot on the track.

        1. lol, good point + well spotted. That gave me a chuckle. It also just reinforces the point.

    3. Coventry Climax
      11th June 2024, 23:32

      Apart from fully agreeing with what you say here, @SjaakFoo, I’m deeply disappointed @KeithCollantine even makes this suggestion about the stewards having been too lenient and possibly created a precedent.
      We all want transparent, consistent stewarding, and while the general public gobbles down controversy like it’s free icecream, controversy is most often created by random decisions.
      If there is a transgression, there is because it’s described in the rule book. Vice versa, if there’s no description for it in the rulebook, it may not be a transgression.
      If it’s a transgression in the rulebook, there’s a sanction for it as well. Stick to that, and let’s not invite the FiA to come up with penalties invented at the spot because they simply just feel like it. Tha’s a situation we’ve had before, and one that especially Keith seems very much p-o’d about still; where a certain race director decided to do what was not in the rule book and follow his own ideas.
      Now if it’s not a transgression in the rulebook, and consequently there’s no sanction defined for it either, then decide whether it’s an omission and it should have been in the rulebook, and what an appropriate sanction should be. Then implement that next season please, and do not interfere with this year’s rules, as has been the case far too often to my liking already.
      Let’s not write open invitations for random stewardry please.

      1. +1

        I thought this article was going to be based on another team whining. Was very surprised it from Keith himself. The last thing we need is more steward interference.

  3. Imagine if it was the other way round – the team orders the driver to try to bring the car back to the pits in an unsafe condition because they want to cause a safety car period. Fortunately, in the history of F1, no team has ever intentionally caused a safety car period using its second driver, so I guess no addendum to the rulebook is required.

    1. That doesn’t really make sense because nowadays it’s like this:
      Driving a damaged car home = maybe or maybe not safety car for debris.
      Parking or leaving a damaged car in the run off = guaranteed safety car for marahalls on track.
      So if you want to trigger a safety car in that situation it’s better to just follow the rules and stay where you are

      1. That doesn’t really make sense because nowadays it’s like this

        I’m thinking you totally missed the ironic reference to a historic event in which a team deliberately caused a safety car to benefit the lead driver, while this was deliberately playing fast and loose with the rules to try and ensure no safety car.
        Hence, the one word reply from matthijs, noting the irony.

        Quite how you missed it, I don’t know.

        1. Possibly because on that occasion, the team did as @roadrunner suggested.

    2. Exactly. This brand new out of nowhere or newly enforced out of nowhere rule has more chance of being abused in the scenario above than anything. It is pretty impossible most of the time definitively know a part wouldn’t have fallen off had they driven back to the pits or to know one would before actually driving, especially when there can be a long delay between the team getting a good look at the bodywork (and the driver can almost never see anything) and the moment a car comes to a complete stop or regains control after an incident.

      A Mickey Mouse rule and ripe for abuse.

    3. Coventry Climax
      11th June 2024, 23:42

      Not quite true, as, alas, there’s an example of a team wanting to create a safety car period: Crashgate.
      If that’s what’s being referenced by @matthijs ‘s single word ‘nice’, than sorry, I ‘missed’ it too.

  4. The $25,000 fine Red Bull were given is only half the amount they were fined back in 2009, when they tried to keep Sebastian Vettel out under similar circumstances – in that case, they were trying to get to the finish and benefit from a safety car that Vettel himself had caused.

    But perhaps Red Bull should simply have argued that, in their judgement, the rear wing was perfectly safe and wasn’t going to fall off. As noted in the article, that was good enough for the stewards in Imola with Albon.

    1. @red-andy Parts were already falling off the car; Red Bull had probably worked out this line of argument wasn’t going to work.

  5. Someone seems very annoyed, a very one sided biased article with far too much condemnation for it to be written objectively.

    Perez just returned the car back to the pits – no different than countless other drivers done with broken front/rear wings, no front front wings, big holes in sidepods, 3 tires, flat tires, loose mirrors etc.

    Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren in fact fairly sure every other team would have done exactly the same if their other driver was leading the race.

    There are far too many safety cars as is – all because race control have gone in bananas after the freak exception Bianchi’s incident in Japan.

    “ This is not to say Verstappen should necessarily have had a penalty yesterday.”
    Well lets penalize a driver when he isn’t even involved – should Lewis have been penalized when Bottas went bowling in Hungary? Should Hulkenberg be penalized because Magnussen delayed the cars behind him even with breaking some driving rules.

    Beyond ridiculous to even hint at suggesting it.

    Toto in 2021 was even pleading with Masi during a race not to sent out a safety car as Lewis was leading.

    1. It is! Suggesting a teammate gets a penalty is beyond any reason or logic. But well that is what happens when F1 reporters lie to themselves and think they are reporting the sport, while in reality they are nothing more than fanboy of a certain racer and/or team. These british F1 ‘so-called’ pundits are a real joke.

      Reply moderated
      1. Suggesting a teammate gets a penalty is beyond any reason or logic.

        I do not think Verstappen should be penalised in this race.

        However, it is fair to question whether it is right that the Singapore GP has a winner despite his team mate playing antics with the safety car
        So, I do ont agree with your statement that penalising a team mate is beyond any reason or logic.

    2. The british F1 media just cannot help themselves. They are blinded by their bias, not capable of any reason of objectivity, misusing this sport for their own nationalistic tendencies. And just blind frustration over Verstappen winning. And this all because he was the one who was starting winning instead of a brit. We could see it happening to Alonso, Vettel and Rosberg, now it’s Verstappens turn.

    3. They’ve overreacted to someone being killed? Nice. Easy to be blasée about risk to life when it’s someone else’s isn’t it?

      1. Bianchi’s accident is very tragic and regrettable but it was a freak accident in extreme conditions when the Halo didn’t exist yet. Given the huge amount of rain as well as standing water the race would likely have been red flagged even before Adrian Sutil slided of the track.

        It is impossible to 100% rule out tragic accidents within Motorsport – the only way it to not have autosport. Driving cars well above 300kmp in a competitive sport never can be 100% safe as recent tragic accidents in Spa have demonstrated.

        So yes in my opinion there are too many VSC and/or SC being called at the moment as a result of changed FIA (V)SC policies following the 2014 Japanese race.

        1. @f1statsfan Bianchi’s accident would not have had a different result with Halo, as Halo’s creators have acknowledged. (Humanity’s understanding of material physics is not yet good enough to enable a Halo-like device to protect against that specific collision; it just so happens that it’s useful against most other things racing can throw at it).

          The rules as existed in Japan 2014 should have resulted in that race not starting (too wet for the conditions), let alone lasting long enough for Sutil to crash (too dark, potentially some other issues), and also should have resulted in a Safety Car following Sutil’s crash (as was then the requirement for when heavy machinery was on track – and yes, there had been complaints when it had been ignored in Germany 2014 as well). The primary issue in Japan 2014 was the FIA not following its own regulations.

          If leaning on softer options such as Virtual Safety Car means the FIA doesn’t feel tempted to break the regulations for the sake of running the race in the way it wants, then that’s a good thing.

          How is this relevant to this article? Because the FIA complying with the regulations it sets is a safety issue. If it starts deviating from that in relatively small things (such as issuing a penalty to Max when no evidence of Max or Red Bull senior management being involved has been presented), precedent shows the FIA is at risk of breaking its own regulations on more important things, opening the door to disaster no matter how good the regulations look on paper.

        2. Trying to use Bianchi as an excuse is intellectually dishonest even if Halo would have made no difference. A single death from a car being recovered off track in the last 50 years and it had nothing to do with a car trying to limp back to the pits after being damaged. Sadly, Bianchi was also largely to blame himself for trying too fast under VSC whether or not he was within the delta or not, which I’ve seen stories reporting both ways in terms of if he was or wasn’t.

          1. Nick T., you do realise that the FIA had to step back from that claim following a settlement with the Bianchis (instead citing “many factors”, something it was notably quiet about even at the time) in 2017, partly because the race shouldn’t even have been running at that point and partly because the car simply wasn’t braking? It’s not a matter of “stories”; this is something that’s been under legal scrutiny and thus “both sides” isn’t a legitimate claim.

          2. Because someone can sue doesn’t lend any weight to your argument. F1 and the tort system have always been a dangerous pair. It’s why the Isle of Man TT isn’t held somewhere that the organization could easily be sued.

    4. @f1statsfan I couldn’t agree more with you on everything & I also found the “This is not to say Verstappen should necessarily have had a penalty yesterday.” part baffling.

    5. notagrumpyfan
      11th June 2024, 9:06

      You’re spot on that the article totally misses the elephant in the room; the significant impact any Safety Car can have on a good race. Don’t focus on what can trigger a SC, but focus on how to minimise the possible negative impact of a SC.
      Personally I prefer (a VSC with) double waved yellows in the danger zone, but this time well executed and properly policed.

      PS I’d also reduce pit-lane speed limits during (V)SC periods, with a similar percentage as the general speed reduction. This will minimise the benefit of pitting during a (V)SC:

    6. I’m not saying it should have happened, but there are already cases where a driver will be penalised for the actions of the team. For instance, if a team fails to hold the driver long enough for a time penalty, the driver will be issued another time penalty for something which wasn’t their fault. The same with technical infringements.

      In this case, Verstappen’s team took the deliberate decision to ignore the rules and put safety at risk in order to help him. That they did so with another driver doesn’t really alter the fact that it was his team doing something illegal to give him an advantage. I don’t know what the answer to this is, but if these are the kinds of penalties to be issued we will see more teams doing this and things like it, and eventually we will end up with a big accident when a large piece of bodywork falls off into the path of a driver at high speed.

  6. An Sionnach
    10th June 2024, 18:24

    The problem is the safety car. A VSC in one sector of the track should be enough to mean there is no certain advantage to pitting and that there is no reset of the grid. Waved yellows can be used, too, with a ten second stop-go penalty for those who speed under them.

    1. The problem is the safety car. A VSC in one sector of the track should be enough to mean there is no certain advantage to pitting and that there is no reset of the grid.

      Unfortunately, I think you’re forgetting that part of the function of the safety car is to slow down the cars total lap time and bunch them so that the marshals get a longer time between cars at their part of the circuit in which they can be on track or very close to the track.
      I’m sure the same effect as a SC could be generated with modified speed limits for each driver delivered through the telemetry system, but either way it still creates a potential for advantage.

    2. notagrumpyfan
      11th June 2024, 9:09

      I agree; largely in line with what I just responded above.

  7. Red Bull caught cheating??

    Now I’ve heard everything.

  8. Cars drive back to the pits while damaged all the time. Sometimes they even do so looking worse than Pérez did. This is very normal in sportscars where a lengthy repair can be worth it to stay in the race to the end, even if it is a few laps down. But that does come with the expectations that the drivers act responsibly. I didn’t see the race live so I don’t know if Pérez handled it like that (i.e. off the racing line and going pitlane-speeds slow). I’m going to guess he didn’t, so it’s fair to penalize him for that. That’s within his control.

    But rather than coming up with more contrived penalties, or opening the door for conspiracy theories, the FIA could also ask itself what it has done over the past few years to make a team so sure that even a small incident, very normal across racing, would trigger a potentially race-deciding neutralisation. It’s a totally fair consideration for Red Bull given they were leading the race.

    Now if the FIA had shown itself capable of policing local yellow flags as intended, and also took one of the many opportunities to compel drivers to pull off at the nearest gap in the barrier, this entire situation could have been avoided. But that’s not the reality. Even Bottas’ extremely poor parking of his car in China went totally uninvestigated. Despite it not being the first time he had done the exact same thing, and thus forming a perfect opportunity for the FIA to make it clear – via a penalty – that drivers have a part to play in keeping the safety car in the pitlane.

    1. Bottas couldn’t really choose where to park, so nothing wrong on his part.
      The only thing wrong was race control being unnecessarily slow with SC deployment despite his car clearly being in the firing line of approaching cars.

      1. There were no signs that Bottas locked his rear axle, and on that straight there are three gaps in the barrier on the right and two on the left, with additional ones just beyond the inside of the corner. He parked his car in the worst possible spot, right in line of the normal braking zone, just barely off the track.

    2. The FIA can’t compel anyone to pull off at the nearest gap in the barrier. That would require a “hot button” to the drivers, and the teams don’t trust Race Control enough for that.

      Safety Car deployment’s usual reason for being slow these days is to allow as much racing as possible until heavy machinery shows up to assist, although I have noticed increasing sloppiness in continuing a yellow-flag situation past the point where the marshals are ready to try things that put them in the direct line of being struck by a wayward car.

      1. The FIA can’t compel anyone to pull off at the nearest gap in the barrier.

        They absolutely can, just like they do pretty much every thing else: give penalties for people who make it needlessly complicated for marshals to retrieve their car. There are of course cases where there’s not much that can be done, but there are plenty where the drivers can make it easier for everyone.

        1. That’s not compelling anyone, that’s issuing a penalty after the fact. Still relies on drivers and teams wanting to co-operate. If it had been that simple, this discussion would never have got started.

      2. the teams don’t trust Race Control enough for that.

        There you go, all those people that say Masi didn’t have an F1 legacy…

    3. 1,000% agreed, Michael.

  9. The stewards should have asked themselves whether, in a close championship fight, a team would be discouraged from using similar tactics by a $25,000 fine and grid drop for their contender’s team mate. Clearly they wouldn’t.

    I’ve said before, but I will repeat, the fines of the team should be deducted from their cost cap figure.
    Hit them with a fine that stops or severely limits all development, if it is near the end of the season, and they are financially past the ability to spend without breaching the cost cap the effect should be felt quite hard.
    Also, deduct points from the lead driver of the team for the offence, and similarly the team for the cost cap breach.

  10. When teams make the back driver break the rules (and their spirit) to benefit the front driver… the penalty should hit either the team or BOTH drivers sufficiently to make them regret that decision.

    If Red Bull were given a penalty to apply to BOTH drivers’ grid position next race, that’s the kind of thing that makes them think twice.

    1. PS – same also goes for Magunssen wracking up multiple penalties helping Hulk. At some point, if it’s endorsed and driven by the team to benefit the team’s other driver… the penalties need to reflect that.

    2. HAHAHA offcourse let’s punish someone who didn’t fo any wrong. At what point do you realise that you’re talking nonsense? I mean you think it, but then you have to type it down as well. But no? You still think you make any sense or reason?

      1. I don’t agree Red Bull deserves a penalty in this situation as I didn’t think what Perez did was that bad. We have seen drivers driving cars in worse condition to the pitlane. I don’t know if Perez did it safely as I didn’t watch his entire lap, so if Perez effectively deserved the penalty, I don’t know.

        I do agree that when a team instructs one driver to break the rules multiple times to hold a car behind, just so the other driver can score points, that at least the points for the constructors-championship could be deducted. To put it more clearly: If it was clear from during the race that Piquet crashed intentionally to benefit Alonso, shouldn’t Alonso be taken out of the race? I think he should as those points directly influence the constructors-championship and could potentialy make his championship. Same goes for Haas. Those points they get by effectively cheating with the second car, will cost another team that does play by the rules a lot of money.

        It’s not “nonsense” when you think about it.

        1. You mention “I don’t know if Perez did it safely as I didn’t watch his entire lap”.

          Part of the wing that was clearly hanging off, did indeed fall off in the middle of the track. They Sky commentators discussed it and agreed it was large enough to cause a crash and would require some kind of flags/VSC/safety car to retrieve. This shows Perez did not return safely.

          Luckily for Perez, a separate crash by someone else in the same lap triggered a separate safety car, under which the wing was cleared up.

      2. Again, there are all sorts of situations where the team breaks the rules in a way the driver has no responsibility for and the driver is punished, even if it didn’t benefit him. This is as it should be, because F1 is a team sport.

        In this case, RBR specifically made a decision, as a team, to break the rules in order to give VER an advantage. While I don’t think it would have been right to penalise VER in this case, that’s only because it would have been completely unprecedented and unexpected.

        However, I do believe we should be discussing what to do in these cases. IMHO if a team chooses to break the rules in any way to benefit their driver, that driver should receive a penalty. This includes ordering one of their drivers to break the rules, or even one of their drivers choosing to break the rules to help them without being ordered (because the drivers are part of the same team). It should be discussed and implemented in a controlled and agreed manner, but I do believe this should be done to stop incidents like this from occurring.

  11. Captain_Slow
    10th June 2024, 19:23

    Drivers should be allowed to drive their damaged cars back to the pit – and in some cases they are a safety hazard. That’s part of motorsport. I really don’t like a situation where stewards evaluate the level of damage and whether a driver should be allowed to drive it back to the pit or not.

    That said, if this is how the rule book is interpreted present day, we should take a few seconds to consider what the penalty had been if this was Haas doing the same rutine….

    In any case, this seem to be a team decision, so the team should get any penalty – drop them 10 point in the Constructors Championship and move on. Leave the drivers out of it.

    Reply moderated
    1. If drivers do not cause more of a hazard by continuing than by parking, or there’s a realistic chance of fixing the fault, then yes, I’d be inclined to agree.

      The stewards don’t have the authority to dock points (drivers’ or constructors’) unless it’s accompanied by a disqualification. Disqualifying a team for this would require direct evidence of intra-team collusion. If the stewards had it, they’d have said so and if RaceFans had been aware of any, it would have been in the article.

      Haas didn’t issue a penalty to the driver in the team that didn’t do it either, and Perez’s penalty is the post-DNF equivalent of issuing Kevin Magnussen a 10-second penalty (something the stewards have done to him multiple times this year).

    2. F1 has gotten to the point where they have trained themselves and most of the fans to accept ZERO added safety risk. Hell, they threw a red flag for a little bit of gravel last season. It’s one of the biggest reasons I hate F1 these days. I want the drivers to be safe, but where does it end? It’s amazingly difficult to even get minor injuries in an F1 car these days and yet they continue to add layer after layer of nonsensical rules to guard against even the slightest degree of elevated risk.

  12. if Mercedes had used Valtteri Bottas to ensure the Safety Car remained out for the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Keith using Flavio Briatore’s book of “Dick Dastardly: The Strategies Reviewed”

    Reply moderated
  13. Personally I don’t see the problem but if this is a saftey issue why does race control leave it to the teams? Let race control make the decission and if necessary just order the team to park the car in a safe place. A penalty for the next race is pointless because it doesn’t make it more safe and a penalty for a teammate who is not involved would be rediculous

    1. A penalty for the next race is pointless because it doesn’t make it more safe and a penalty for a teammate who is not involved would be rediculous

      No more ridiculous than suggesting that the whole Renault entry should have been DQ’s at Singapore 2008.
      Although, on that – Maybe Massa’s court appeal will generate a retro-active DQ, and deliver justice, instead of what he’s aiming for.

      1. Retroactive justice would be Massa getting the WDC. F1 knew what had happened at the time. Renault and F1 losing a win from the record books = a big fat who cares. Let’s also not forget multiple people were banned for life from the sport for the incident. So, acting like the fallout had no teeth is equally ridiculous. No one looking for a long career in F1 will ever try something like that again.

    2. It’s left to the teams because it’s the teams’ responsibility to figure these things out. Besides, race control would need a “hot button” for this and F1’s been loath to provide one due to persistent mistrust of Race Control.

      1. I know it’s currently the teams responsibility but that is my point it shouldn’t be. It should be RC who make that decision based on safety. They can communicate to the teams so I don’t see the problem. What is the point of waiting and investigate after the race like they did with Alonso mirror in 2022. If it’s unsafe just order them to stop the car. We already have enough ridiculous penalties as it is.

        1. While I agree that safety issues should not be left entirely in the hands of the teams, it is a difficult one. The teams do have much more information about their car than the officials, and they could end up ordering a car to retire when they were still safe to drive.

          The point of issuing penalties for things like this is supposed to be as a deterrent. Any punishment for doing something unsafe should be enough to stop them from doing it in the first place, to make them put resources in place to ensure it doesn’t happen. In this case, this penalty does nothing of the sort. RBR will not be bothered that Perez gets a grid penalty for this, and the fine was pocket change at best to the team.

        2. grapmg The teams don’t think Race Control would avoid the temptation to use/be used to wield that power for psuedopolitics as was more-or-less confirmed happened in 2021 (and some suspect also happened in 2022 and fear happening in 2024 now that Verstappen’s being challenged again).

          Ordering a team to stop the car has to be done by the orange-and-black flag, which can only be waved if it can be proven the car was not pitted on the first opportunity – and then only on the start-finish line (so not until the first complete lap after the issue began). Since Perez retired long before then, the only options were post-race investigation or tacit approval.

      2. They can issue an SC, RF, etc. directly to the car They can do the same with this.

  14. Consider, for example, if Mercedes had used Valtteri Bottas to ensure the Safety Car remained out for the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    How?
    By not passing the safety car, so that Masi would have to break the SC rules exactly as he did?
    Or were you thinking that Bottas could mysteriously stop in the middle of a corner?

    1. By making it impossible to put the Safety Car back into the pits, therefore ensuring the order at the chequered flag was (barring Bottas) the same as it was when the Safety Car queue was formed. Yes, “mysteriously” parking in the middle of a corner with a “My electronics failed! [expletive]!” would have been an option.

      Of course, that would have been difficult to pull off without evidence that wider benefit was intended, as it is likely that someone in Mercedes’ leadership would have needed to provide the plan (stopping in the middle of a corner is not an instinctive response to that situation, the way returning to the pits was for this one).

      1. That is basically the same what Briatore/Renault asked Nelson Piquet jr. to do in 2008. They got banned from F1 for this. Don’t forget RB could have also forced a SC in Abu Dhabi much earlier. Forcing a SC or a red flag like Schumacher did in Monaco qualifying to influence the race is different to someone who is avoiding to influence the race and drive the car back to the pits.

        1. But he wasn’t “avoiding to influence the race”, he and the team were breaking the rules in order to influence the race in their favour.

          If pretty much any other driver had crashed as Perez had, the team would have told him to park the car because that’s what the rules say they must do. They would have nothing to gain by breaking the rules and everything to lose by being penalised. Depending on where he parked it, there would most likely have been a SC or VSC.

          Therefore, by breaking the rules as he did, Perez influenced the race. Heck, we probably wouldn’t even have had the crash which resulted in the SC shortly after if he had followed the rules. He broke the rules and significantly altered the race. Simple as.

    2. Any time a British driver suffers from the way the cookie crumbles must result in CHANGES! Even if driving back to the pits with a damaged car as long as it can steer is something we’ve seen a MILLION and considered the norm. I really dislike Max and RBR, but I don’t considering it cheating to want and then avoid a safety car by your driver returning to the pit, unless the driver himself didn’t feel safe trying to do so.

      1. Dumping a bunch of debris on the way for no reason was the offence, not trying to go back to the pits.

  15. There’s nothing wrong at all with not warning to bring out a safety car. That should be the preferred racing outcome in any accident.

    What it highlights as I asked in the first article about this, is why there aren’t more escape roads a damaged car can escape by hence not causing a safety incident.

    I see this more of an issue for the organisers than a racing matter for the team itself.

    1. Well, it’s a street-ish circuit within really quite limited confines, so that part is clear why (unless you want that to mean the track can’t be used). When it’s a safety issue, then the stewards IMO should be firm. Not sure that was warranted here.

    2. Agreed, Tristan.

    3. There were some escape roads Perez could have used had he a) known he was trailing parts and b) believed that a DNF was inevitable.

  16. Current punish is ok since it what it is written in the rules. As many as F1 history teach us is that from time to time a a team get advantage on the loopholes left in the reglament. For example, I remember Schumacher ending a race in the pits taking a 10-second penalty to avoid the time lost on the pit exit, and then FIA rules that this kind of penalties must be taken no longo than a few laps latter that it was imposed.

    But beeing aware of this loophole in the rules is good to avoid other teams to copycat. But it would be unfair to try to impose a harder penalty for a situation nobody anticipates could happen before.

    1. For example, I remember Schumacher ending a race in the pits taking a 10-second penalty to avoid the time lost on the pit exit,

      I believe it was more that his pit box was actually after the finish line, and therefore he had already finished by the time he stopped, however the precise wording of the rules at the time required the driver to enter the pit lane for the penalty before the end of the race (he did)

  17. The Dolphins
    11th June 2024, 3:45

    There is a post at T9 where Perez could have driven straight off the track (without requiring marshals to reverse) and another one at the T10 hairpin. Unnecessary to go full distance to the pit given it was an obvious DNF for Perez. I don’t believe the penalty was too lenient given there is a grid penalty for Perez, the impact on Max is as relevant as any other driver who stood to benefit for the lack of a Safety Car at that point in the race.

    1. I agree that going roughly half the lap length was unnecessary given viable opportunities to park the car without requiring SC.

    2. If that’s true then I stick to my original understanding that this was simply a mistake by Red Bull ordering him to return to the pits, either way I can’t see how this can be interpreted as nefarious.

      1. If that’s true then I stick to my original understanding that this was simply a mistake by Red Bull ordering him to return to the pits

        OK, let’s take that one and pile it alongside the catering budget mistake

    3. notagrumpyfan
      11th June 2024, 9:55

      I don’t believe the penalty was too lenient given there is a grid penalty for Perez

      Of course a grid penalty for a driver qualifying on the last row can be considered lenient.
      And Perez typically qualifies closer to the last row lately :p

    4. the impact on Max is as relevant as any other driver who stood to benefit for the lack of a Safety Car at that point in the race

      Except that it was Max’s team who ordered Checo to break the rules in order to benefit him. That’s where it gets dicey. Perez is part of the same team. I don’t think anything should have been done this time, but I do believe that something should be brought in to stop teams doing this (and, TBH, to stop things like KMag’s intentional breaking of the rules a couple of races ago).

    5. Amazingly though, with how F1 operates currently, even that is far from guaranteed to prevent a safety car. Even the car being beyond the catch fence is no longer guaranteed to prevent an SC.

  18. The only circumstance where the stewards would have been permitted to issue the penalty requested by this article is if Max, someone on Max’s side of the garage or senior Red Bull management (think Christian Horner or another manager with responsibility for both sides of the garage) had agreed to it.

    As it was, neither Max nor anyone involved with his car was a party to the situation, and therefore Max could not be issued with any penalty by the stewards. Attempting to do so would have required a referral to the International Court of Appeals, together with evidence that this was deliberately for Max’s benefit – as opposed to being a balance of safety risks between the possibility of parts falling off and the certainty of having to put marshals on the track to retrieve the car.

    The 2024 precedent for this is Nico Hulkenberg never being in scope for getting a penalty for any of Kevin Magnussen’s defensive driving. Which is reasonable – there is no evidence Nico requested Kevin do this, nor has anyone presented any evidence in a format the stewards could used to prove anyone with power over Nico’s car asked for this either (even though by this point we have compelling circumstantial evidence). If the stewards couldn’t penalise Nico for Kevin’s driving, they can’t penalise Max for Checo bringing his car back to the pits.

    I’m in favour of Red Bull getting a penalty for getting the safety balance calculation wrong, and accept the DNF significantly limited the stewards’ options in that regard. Checo should have been reminded when the extent of the damage was apparent of his nearest option for safely parking the car. Granted that the on-board itself would not have advised of the need to retire, I can imagine the Turn 10 exit opportunity would have been missed. However, I think there’s at least one other such exit available after that point that is prior to the pits.

    I’d even be in favour of a heavier penalty had Red Bull made a habit of using one driver in the other’s interests in a rule-breaking way (a record Red Bull does not have). I am not in favour of giving a penalty to someone who does not appear to have had any direct bearing on the decision or subsequent actions. Start penalising people for minding their own business and the door is opened for arbitrary penalties for all sorts of reasons. While it is likely a rethink will be done about how such matters are treated in future, the regulators will need to tread carefully to avoid overreach.

    1. As it was, neither Max nor anyone involved with his car was a party to the situation,

      Objection: “Speculation, M’lud. There is no evidence that the TP did not in fact sanction this”
      Direction from judge: “The defence will refrain from stating speculation as fact”

      1. Correction from appeals judge: Judges must refrain from implying or stating guilt where it is not confirmed or evidenced by the evidence presented within the courtroom.

        (Judges can and do get censured for the type of mistake shown in SteveP’s comment).

  19. For me, the point we’re missing is that this is the second time in 3 races that a driver or team has admitted they purposely broken the rules, knowing they would be penalised for it, in order to help their team mate. This is basically holding the officials and the sport in contempt. In any other sport, both would be getting punitive punishments for this, but in F1 they have both effectively just recorded a slap on the wrist. This is going to encourage more teams to tell their drivers to break the rules where it will benefit their teammate.

    Heck, it could even be that this is already an escalation. RBR cannot fail to have noticed KMag getting away with the previous incident, and have upped the ante from unsportsmanlike to dangerous. What’s next, a repeat of crashgate?

    1. @drmouse Unfortunately there is quite a bit of precedent for it. Including the FIA repeatedly holding itself in contempt by deliberately breaking its own regulations and giving itself no penalty at all. From what I see in the article, Red Bull doesn’t think it deliberately broke the regulations. After all, acting to deliberately cause a Safety Car is itself against the regulations, so acting to avoid one would be a valid motive under appropriate circumstances. It just so happened that it got its calculations wrong and increased the likelihood of a Safety Car by dumping debris all over the place (which is why a penalty is correct).

      Of course, if the teams or the FIA get the idea that Red Bull’s actions were deliberate, there will be an escalation whether Red Bull intended a regulation breach or not.

      The situation is poisonous enough that I could easily imagine a Crashgate happening by a team which did not regard itself has having much to lose. The close nature of the 2024 season is the main reason I think this will be delayed to 2025. Hopefully more sensible attitudes will have prevailed by this point.

  20. I don’t think drivers should be penalized for avoiding a safety car.

    1. @paeschli It’s not clear it was avoided, or whether a Safety Car would have been called for the debris anyway had the other incident not occurred.

  21. Its funny, nobody reacted like this when Fernando drove back to the pits with 2 wheels at Baku in 2018. It wasnt like Sergio was leaving a trail of oil on the track behind him.

    1. Its funny, nobody reacted like this when Fernando drove back to the pits with 2 wheels at Baku in 2018

      To use Fernando’s own words: That’s because he’s Spanish

      1. He knows it’s not because he’s Spanish. He just didn’t want to outright say British drivers are dealt with more leniently, which they clearly have been. Those who get furious over the comment are typically hardcore fans of Lewis, Lando, George, etc. Just like most of the anger over this incident is simply because a British driver got negatively affected.

    2. I distinctly remember that some people did react that way back then. Although that was more in the line of “What do you think you are going to achieve?” rather than “Get this driver a penalty for being a track hazard”.

  22. If the team knew parts would fall off they would have never issued this order.
    The chance for a SC only increases with all that debris.
    So very unlikely they knew it would losse parts during this lap.

    1. Don’t use common sense.

  23. Quite the wind-up article again. Alonso was right.

    1. Alonso was right.

      He’s right that he’s Spanish, beyond that his argument tends toward the pixies at the bottom of the garden level of veracity.
      Not that I think he believes any of it, just a means of winding people up as a distraction.

      1. A distraction from what? lol. It’s amazingly clear British drivers have been dealt with more leniently and are likely to be given the benefit of the doubt versus other drivers. It’s fine to dislike Alonso, but intellectually dishonest to pretend what he said wasn’t accurate. I mean how Lewis was dealt with after barreling into the side of Alonso vs Fernando getting a penalty for lightest of kisses in a valid and controlled move was the most blatant and recent of examples. Or how Lando didn’t get a jump start. Happens time and again.

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