Perez drops to P13 for sprint, Russell receives warning

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, takes plenty of kerb. Austria, July 2022.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, takes plenty of the kerb at the Red Bull Ring. Austria, July 2022.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has tumbled down the starting grid for the Austria sprint due to a track limits violation, now set to line up P13.

Perez had qualified P4 for the sprint in Austria although even before Q3 had begun, whichever position Perez had gone on to claim was in doubt due to an impeding investigation from the stewards.

With track limits being very strictly enforced, the stewards set about investigating whether Perez had breached track limits on his final flying lap of Q2.

They determined he had indeed done so at Turn 8, and so with that lap time deleted it means Perez will now be forced to start sprint qualifying in Austria from P13.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez looks on during the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2022.

“Perez left the track at Turn 8 on his last flying lap of Q2, just before the end of the session,” the report from the stewards stated.

“As this was not identified until the moment before Q3 started, the lap was not deleted before the start of Q3 and Perez started Q3. This is a consequence of having many situations to examine in each session. The video was clear and there is no doubt of the breach, which the team admitted.

“The team made the point that leaving the track at this point is not a clear advantage and brought data to support that point. However, the stewards considered this was not a case of ‘gaining a lasting advantage’ but rather ‘leaving the track without a justifiable reason’, which is another part of the same rule and the section being applied to qualifying sessions.

“This situation, where a driver moves through to a subsequent round of qualifying and then is identified as having committed a track limits breach, does not happen regularly and certainly not recently. Thus the stewards have to examine this as a new situation.

“The team made the point they took both risk and expended resources to compete in Q3. The stewards accept this point. However, in assessing a penalty after a session, this is no different than any other situation.

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

Also attracting attention from the stewards was Mercedes‘ Russell who, after crashing out of Q3, was investigated for allegedly entering the track without authorisation.

The stewards determined Russell, without permission, had crossed the track on foot and entered the pit lane at a section where no speed restrictions were in place, so he was given a warning.

“Russell had just crashed in Turn 10 and caused a red flag,” the stewards reported. “He then crossed the track on foot and entered the section of the pit lane that does not have a speed limit, without permission from any marshals.

“At the time he started crossing the track, some of the cars were still on track and could possibly have missed the pit entry, causing an unsafe situation. The stewards spoke to the driver and he was issued a warning.”