Red Bull punishment slammed after rule break and ‘endangering’ drivers

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez in the Red Bull RB20 at the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez in the Red Bull RB20.

Formula 1 presenter Will Buxton claimed a Red Bull fine and Sergio Perez grid drop was not “anywhere near enough” of a punishment after the Canadian GP incident, even dropping a reference to the ‘Crashgate’ scandal.

Perez spun off on Lap 53 of 70 at the Canadian Grand Prix, sliding backwards into the barriers at Turn 5 and wrecking his rear wing. Perez would return to the track and trundle back to the pits to retire, that process having resulted in a three-place grid penalty for Perez at the next race in Spain, plus a €25,000 fine for Red Bull.

Will Buxton hits out at Red Bull verdict

By driving back to the pits with a damaged car, Perez breached Article 26.10 of F1’s Sporting Regulations which states that “if a driver has serious mechanical difficulties, he must leave the track as soon as it is safe to do so.”

This prompted the stewards to hand out that three-place grid drop for the Spanish Grand Prix, while Red Bull were fined as they had instructed Perez to bring his RB20 back to the pit lane. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ultimately won the Canadian Grand Prix.

And in the opinion of Buxton, the punishment does not fit the transgression. He would even claim that there is just “a few degrees of separation” between this incident and the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix ‘Crashgate’ scandal, where Renault ordered Nelson Piquet Jr to crash to benefit team-mate Fernando Alonso, who went on to win the race.

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“Personally I don’t think the repercussions for the team are anywhere near enough,” Buxton wrote on his X [formerly known as Twitter] account.

“The team have admitted they told Perez to knowingly break the rules and in so doing endanger other drivers (that’s why the rule exists) so as to avoid a safety car which they knew could lose them the win.

“Reverse the outcome of the reasoning and you have a team telling a driver to break the rules to create a safety car to help them win. It’s a few degrees of separation. One is a grid drop and a fine. The other is Singapore ’08.”

He then clarified in a separate post, when a fan asked if the move had similar implications to ‘Crashgate’: “Absolutely not saying it was deliberate. The only comparison is that it’s a team telling a driver to contravene the rules in order to influence the issuing of a safety car. Simply find it interesting Red Bull would admit their thinking on this so openly.”

Canada marked another frustrating race weekend for Perez, who signed a new multi-year Red Bull deal in the lead-up to the event.

He is now without a podium since the Chinese Grand Prix in April.

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