FIA explain why Perez’s pass on Bottas was legal

Jon Wilde
Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez was given the all-clear by the FIA to keep third place in the French Grand Prix despite exceeding track limits after passing Valtteri Bottas.

The Mexican made it back-to-back podium finishes, following his Azerbaijan victory, having overtaken the Mercedes on lap 49 of 53 at Paul Ricard.

With Perez’s team-mate Max Verstappen also getting past Lewis Hamilton to take the win, it meant Red Bull moved 37 points clear of Mercedes in the battle for the Constructors’ World Championship.

But there was a slightly controversial element to Perez’s overtake on Bottas for it was completed beyond the white line of the exit of the high-speed Signes right-hander.

Nevertheless, having investigated the incident, the race stewards noted that Perez had executed the move before he ran wide and that he had lost time shortly afterwards and therefore did not gain a lasting advantage.

The report, which concluded “no further action” should be taken, stated: “The stewards determined that Perez had fully completed the pass on Bottas by the time he left the track at Turn 10.

“This made the fact he left the track subsequently as a standard ‘track limits’ question. The stewards determined that Perez lost sufficient ground in the following turn that he could not be deemed to have ‘gained a lasting advantage’.”

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Ultimately, Perez, whose tyres were six laps younger than Bottas’, finished just under six seconds ahead of the Finn and almost nine seconds behind Verstappen, moving him on to 84 points in the Drivers’ standings.

The 31-year-old praised the team’s decision to run a long first stint to give him fresher tyres for the closing stages, even though things had been tricky at the start.

“For the first five to 10 laps the car was pretty much undriveable with the wind,” said Perez in his immediate post-race interview.

“We obviously ran less downforce today, so it was pretty hard to keep up.

“But then, probably as the wind was getting calmer and the track was getting better, I started to pick up more rhythm and we managed to go quite long on the first stint.

“I think that really paid off towards the end. I think the degradation was quite a lot higher than expected today.

“So I think we did a great race, and a great strategy from the team. I’m happy we won the race today and good points for the team.”

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