Ferrari believe Sergio Perez should have been penalised ‘twice’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc head in hands walking towards Sergio Perez's winning RB18. Singapore October 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc head in hands walking towards Sergio Perez's winning RB18. Singapore October 2022

Mattia Binotto believes Sergio Perez deserved two penalties at the Singapore Grand Prix having “twice” not kept to within 10 car lengths behind the Safety Car.

Perez won a wet race at the Marina Bay circuit, crossing the line 7.595s ahead of Charles Leclerc.

But his win came under threat, the Red Bull driver facing a stewards’ investigation into an alleged breach of Article 55.10 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, which pertains to keeping within 10 car lengths of the Safety Car.

Binotto says there were actually “two infringements” because during both Safety Car periods in the race Perez fell back by more than 10 car lengths.

“There were two infringements behind the Safety Car, so it can twice be a penalty. But we can only trust on what they decide,” the Ferrari team boss told Sky Sports.

“On the occasion of two different Safety Cars he made the same mistake, being too far from the car.

“If I look at similar cases, like Giovinazzi in 2019, the driver was punished with five seconds and I believe the sporting regulations impose a penalty of five seconds, 10 or a drive-through.”

At the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, Antonio Giovinazzi was given a 10-second penalty for failing to follow the race director’s instructions and causing an unsafe situation when he drove too close to a crane behind the Safety Car.

Perez’s investigation took place only after the grand prix, the stewards announcing a five-second penalty and a reprimand.

The penalty meant the Mexican driver retained the win, 2.595s ahead of Leclerc.

Binotto would have liked the stewards to have done their investigation during the grand prix.

“We are sorry the decision did not come during the race because this delay affected not only the podium but also the management of the race itself because Charles, in an attempt to stay close to Perez, inevitably wore his tyres,” he said.

“I guess the stewards want to understand from the driver and the team what prompted him to drive differently. Maybe they didn’t want to rush a decision and possibly make a mistake. This is why they took their time.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes there were mitigating circumstances with Perez, and the rest of the field, struggling to get heat into their tyres behind the slow Safety Car.

“I think there’s so many precedents we’ve seen, even in the recent past when there’s been a concertina going on up and down the field, we see it,” he said. “We’ve seen it even on formation laps.

“I think, again, the mitigating circumstances were that the Safety Car was just driving so slow. And they had spent, what, 30-odd laps on inter tyres, they are all out there on a set of slicks.

“You could hear Checo screaming to get [on] because they pick him up first. So he had no temperature in his tyres.”

Sunday’s result means Perez closed the gap to Leclerc in the fight for P2 in the Drivers’ standings to just two points.