Horner brands Perez’s grid drop as ‘very harsh’

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez unhappy, speaking with Red Bull mechanics. Bahrain March 2022

Sergio Perez’s penalty for exceeding track limits in Q2 at the Red Bull Ring was “very harsh”, that’s the opinion of Christian Horner.

Perez qualified fourth for Saturday’s sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix weekend only to be informed that he was under investigation for a track limits violation in Q3.

The stewards ruled that the “video was clear and there is no doubt of the breach, which the team admitted”.

But because it had taken place in Q2, the driver making it through to the final segment, they faced an unexpected situation of what punishment to hand out.

They decided to delete all his Q3 times, as he should not have progressed, as well as his Q2 time on the lap that exceeded the track limits.

“The usual penalty is deleting the lap time concerned and the stewards order the same penalty here,” read their report.

“However, as a consequence, the driver would not have proceeded into Q3 and therefore, in fairness to all the other competitors, the stewards order all the lap times for Q3 for the driver also are deleted.”

Horner says that was “very harsh”.

“We feel the penalty for Checo was very harsh and should have been dealt with before Q3 to enable us to improve subsequent performance,” the Red Bull team boss said as per GPFans.

“He will do his best from P13 and try and put us in a better position for Sunday’s race.”

Perez’s penalty does set a precedent now for future infringements which aren’t noted at the time.

As for the driver, he was disappointed to lose his fourth place on the grid.

He will instead line up P13 with his team-mate and title rival Max Verstappen on pole position.

“It is disappointing to lose fourth place,” Perez said.

“Track limits are very tight here this season, and it is frustrating the team weren’t told my lap time had been deleted during Q2.

“We have the sprint to make up ground and a long race ahead. We have to keep our head down and push hard to make progress and put us in a good position for Sunday.”