Sergio Perez criticises ‘dangerous’ light conditions at end of Australian GP

Oliver Harden
Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso spun at the Australian GP restart. April 2023.

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso gets spun at the restart of the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez has suggested the low sun at the end of the Australian Grand Prix may have contributed to the chaotic restart, describing the light conditions in Melbourne as “really dangerous”.

Despite starting at 1500 local time, the race at Albert Park ended up lasting around two-and-a-half hours after being punctuated by three red flag stoppages, with an unusual mistake by Kevin Magnussen late in the race – the Haas driver losing a tyre after slamming the wall at Turn 2 – setting up a two-lap sprint to the chequered flag.

That grandstand finish was halted after a matter of moments as Carlos Sainz tagged the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly tangled with Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon and Logan Sargeant slammed into the back of Nyck de Vries’ AlphaTauri.

The race was ultimately brought to an end with the field circulated behind the Safety Car for the final lap.

With the sun setting around 30 minutes after the finish, Perez – who won the Driver of the Day award for recovering from an early qualifying exit to fifth place – has criticised the conditions at the conclusion of the race.

And the Mexican has revealed that the drivers struggled with vision from the halfway point of the 58-lap race.

As per the German publication, he said: “It was really dangerous. We couldn’t see anything. recommends

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“We can no longer drive in these conditions. One day there will be a big crash.

“In the last 30 laps we are only passengers, we don’t see anything at all.”

Time for Australia’s F1 race to embrace the night life?

Perez is not the first driver to criticise the light conditions at Albert Park and he is unlikely to be the last.

Attempting to strike the right balance between safety and attracting the strongest possible audience, the Australian race has seen its start time repeatedly shifted over the years with results ranging from too early for fans in F1’s European heartland to too late for drivers blinded by the sun’s glare.

In this conundrum worthy of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, perhaps the ‘just right’ solution would be to bite the bullet and make Melbourne’s F1 race embrace the night life.

After Singapore hosted F1’s first-ever night race in 2008, no fewer than five after-dark grands prix will take place in 2023, but Bahrain still stands as the only pre-existing race to have been switched from day to dusk having made the change in 2014.

Albert Park does not need the change to improve the event’s atmosphere – it remains among the highlights of any season – but it would be a happy medium for all concerned.