Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

Marko contradicts stewards’ reason for Red Bull and Perez penalties

Formula 1

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko offered a different account of their actions in the Canadian Grand Prix to that related by the stewards in justifying their penalties for the team and Sergio Perez.

The team’s driver broke his car’s rear wing and suspension when he spun off at turn six, then drove back to the pits as debris fell from his RB20. The stewards ruled Perez drove his car in an unsafe condition, handed him a three-place grid penalty for the next round in Spain and fined Red Bull €25,000 (£21,000).

According to the stewards “the team confirmed in the hearing that the driver had been advised to bring the car back to the pits as they were trying to avoid a Safety Car situation”. Perez’s team mate Max Verstappen was leading at the time.

However Marko has contradicted the stewards’ claim, claiming the true reason Red Bull told Perez to return to the pits was in order to repair his car so he could continue in the race, despite having a broken rear wing and only 18 laps remaining.

“Perez’s rear-view mirrors were dirty and he couldn’t see what the rear looked like,” Marko told Speedweek. “We, on the other hand, could see from the data that the suspension was okay, so of course we’re trying to get the car back and, ideally, be able to fight for points again.”

“The race stewards then announced that parts of his car had fallen off,” Marko added. Red Bull was aware of this and alerted Verstappen to the debris. When Perez returned to the pits his race engineer Hugh Bird told him to “retire the car.”

Marko queried why Lewis Hamilton wasn’t penalised in 2020 for driving on a puncture at the end of the British Grand Prix. “I remember Lewis Hamilton once finishing on three wheels at Silverstone and winning,” he said. “Strange, there was no penalty then.”

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Perez’s radio messages after his crash

Lap: 52/70
Bird Perez hits the wall at turn six, then rejoins the track with damage to his rear wing and suspension
So Bottas and Massa coming through.
Perez Ah fuck. I think I have a suspension damage.
Perez I bring it back?
Bird Yeah, bring it back. Bring it back.
Bird Tyre 13. Tyre blue 13. Recharge on. Zhou at two seconds. One, coming through.
Bird So stay right, stay off the line. We’ve got Max at eight seconds. We are boxing. Max at seven seconds. Six. Five, so we’re boxing. Max at Four. All good.
Bird Okay, into John, retire the car.
Perez Ah, fuck. Sorry, guys.
Perez I touched the wet patch there.
Bird Yeah, quite a few people had gone off around there. We were just the unlucky one that caught the wall.

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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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25 comments on “Marko contradicts stewards’ reason for Red Bull and Perez penalties”

  1. A broken rear wing can’t be fixed in a reasonable amount of time, so this is obviously not true.

    1. Not sure about now, but when there was no DRS, broken rear wing change during a pit-stop was a common thing (if there was no other damage) and it took about 40 seconds.

      1. I think 40 sec is an exageration, but I’ve seen it done in a couple of mins and in the right circumstances, example once barrichello in the ferrari dominant years at spa and under SC, it was possible to do while staying in the lead lap, and he ended up getting on the podium, and nowadays it’s occasionally allowed to recover laps behind SC, so you never know.

  2. Marko queried why Lewis Hamilton wasn’t penalised in 2020 for driving on a puncture at the end of the British Grand Prix. “I remember Lewis Hamilton once finishing on three wheels at Silverstone and winning,” he said. “Strange, there was no penalty then.”

    A silly example, as Hamilton’s tyre had deflated but was otherwise intact – he certainly wasn’t shedding debris all over the track.

    Drivers attempt to recover to the pits with punctures all the time, and while I do think the FIA should come down more harshly on the ones where they’re spreading debris all over the place on their way back, Hamilton’s incident wasn’t an example of this.

    1. Agreed. Not sure why people look for Marcos opinion on things like this, it just makes RBR look a bit of a joke. If you back into a wall at pretty much any mph in an F1 car the rear wing will be damaged, you don’t need clean mirrors to see that – and he hit the wall pretty hard.

    2. I think it is a nice example of the (politically fed) inconsistency and partiality of the FIA. This has been and is to date a blemish on the sport.

      1. Indeed and the enforcement of damaged cars not returning to the pits literally just became a thing for the first time in F1 this season and it didn’t even begin from the first race. Driving a damaged car back to the pits to see if it could be fixed or simply to retire the car used to be the absolute norm. We’ve from drivers being able to push their car across the finish line to now you’re not supposed to be able to drive back to the pit in seemingly any state. They say it’s about cars that might have something fall off, but that’s almost impossible for the driver to know and see. And a driver can’t wait around for the engineers to study the video feed before getting back under way, unless they’re sitting around stationary.

        I don’t think this penalty was intentionally meant to harm RBR in favor a British driver or something silly like that, but it’s amazing how British drivers seem to get the benefit out of the doubt or non-calls so much more often.

  3. As normal, Red Bull should stop Marko from talking

    1. Jockey Ewing
      14th June 2024, 14:10

      Honestly, if they Red Bull as a company was not able to retire him until now, most likely they will not be able to do so later on either. Or at least, not until the Verstappens are in the team. So he will retire if his age or health will not allow him to continue. Imo not much more honesty is coming out from other teams’ top management either, but Marko’s public statements were often not really future-proof or not even modern-day-world-proof. So, given that in the Germanophone world retiring relatively early is quite common, I would have already retired him if I would have had the power of the company’s top management. There is no need to see bad things into this, I would have gave him a retirement involving great pomp, to satisfy the Verstappens. It would have been as deceitful as the ways of going used to be in the politics, and corporate environemts, but if he would have been celebrated like not many before, who can say a word?
      Looks like, he thrives and is able to act very strongly in coprorate and political environments, so they have not succeed with this otherwise common-sensical action. It is way beyond the point when it became problematic for them, but due to this age the problem can solve itself soon. Maybe that is their plan.

  4. An Sionnach
    14th June 2024, 9:41

    A better solution might be if Perez kept the engine running, got out and used his handy repair kit to fix the wing: a little duct tape, a shoelace and a few stamps and it’d be grand. It wouldn’t be as fast, but he’d still be guaranteed a non-podium points finish!

  5. Comparing to the 2020 British GP ending is somewhat apples to oranges.

    1. @jerejj He’s just hoping people will write clickbait headlines with ‘Hamilton’ in the title. If he wanted a more representative basis for comparison Carlos Sainz Jnr in the same race appeared to offer one.

      1. Your comment oozes contempt for the man. You still think you’re a credible F1 reporter with a comment like this? Your bias is so obvious. It‘s actually kind of sad if this the level of reporting.

  6. Marko might be wrong on the details, but it is still a very unusual thing to penalize both driver and team for something that others have done countless times (drive back), only because of some apparent gripe the supposed reason (to prevent a safety car).

    I’m pretty sure it was mentioned at the time that the exact same thought was a contributing reason to retire Sainz in at Abu Dhabi last year, as Ferrari’s strategy hinged on Pérez ending up between Leclerc and Russell after penalties were applied. As it happened, Russell stayed close enough to also be promoted ahead of Sainz. But obviously a safety car in the final laps would have guaranteed that Russell was classified ahead. Unsurprisingly, nothing came off it.

    Penalize Pérez for driving back without due caution, sure. But the rest seems a bit desperate to find a way to penalize Red Bull. One might even muse that this probably wouldn’t have been an issue at all had not Norris and Russell been right behind but say Leclerc and Alonso, for obvious reasons.

    1. *Promoted ahead of Pérez, that is.

    2. It’s this new, overly cautious and nanny state like F1 where everything from a driver not entering the pit que correctly to investigating every little thing from a driver not following the director’s instructions on 50 different things such as using bollard at turn x if missed even when the driver clearly couldn’t have made the bollard due to being out of control (like correcting a snap of oversteer to ensure they didn’t totally spin out) to this brand new Mickey Mouse rule where you can’t return to the pit if you have even the smallest chance of losing a part.

      But, my mistake, I thought that’s what yellow flags, VSCs, etc. were for. But apparently not.

      1. You’d almost think FIA wants to throw in as much safety cars to bunch up the field as many times as possible during the race. Great, attractive, close driving.

    3. its pretty clear there is bias in who are given penalties vs not. just dont say it or your team magically starts to go much slower.

      1. Aah yes! Baseless conspiracies, for the ones without an actual argument but still need to tell themselves a little madeup narrative so they can cope with it a little better. Goodluck!

        1. Recently read an interesting study that links susceptibility to conspiracy theories to a combination of narcissism limited intelligence; basically, an inability to explain the world around you combined with an inability to accept that that inability might be because of your own limitations.
          Sounded very plausible to me.

          1. You summed it up pretty accurately.

  7. Classic Marko. He and Horner are two peas in a pod saying whatever they think makes Red Bull look better, regardless of the veracity

    1. Not to mention both have the memory of Dori from Finding Nemo.

  8. Massa?

  9. Marko is 81 years old. Perhaps we should start giving him some more leeway and not jumping on his remarks like we would with, say, Horner or Toto.

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