Red Bull hit with grid penalty as Sergio Perez punished for Nico Hulkenberg block

Thomas Maher
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez is off to see the stewards at the Australian Grand Prix, following an alleged blocking incident in Q1.

Sergio Perez has been given a three-place grid penalty following a blocking incident in qualifying.

Red Bull and Haas team representatives headed to see the race stewards at 6pm local time in Australia, due to an incident that took place in Q1 at Albert Park.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg meet on track during Q1

Just three minutes into the first part of qualifying, Nico Hulkenberg was on a flying lap when he encountered the slow-moving Red Bull of Sergio Perez as the Mexican prepared for his first flying lap of the session.

Encountering the Red Bull at the penultimate corner, Hulkenberg appeared to have been impeded by Perez, and it earned the attention of the stewards as they summoned both drivers before them to explain their perspective on the incident.

Following a meeting with the two drivers, the stewards ruled that Perez had blocked Hulkenberg and duly hit the Red Bull driver with a three-place grid drop – demoting him to sixth on the grid.

“Hulkenberg was on a fast lap when he approached Turn 13,” said the stewards.

“Perez, who was on an out lap, was at the apex of the turn and Hulkenberg had to leave the racing line to drive around him.

“Hulkenberg was forced to lift the throttle early and brake early for that corner.

“In reviewing the audio from Perez’s car, the Stewards observed that the team was focused on the car in front of Perez that had just slowed, and did not give Perez a warning that Hulkenberg was behind him until one second before Hulkenberg arrived, and significantly too late to avoid impeding Hulkenberg.

“While the Stewards appreciate the dynamic situation facing the team and driver during the Q1 session, which was described in the hearing, the Stewards find that Perez “Unnecessarily Impeded” Hulkenberg and issue a three grid place drop, consistent with previous cases.” recommends

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Hulkenberg didn’t make it through into Q2, although didn’t seem too angry about the situation afterward as he doubted Perez’s block had been the deciding factor.

“He wasn’t looking in the mirror,” Hulkenberg told media after the session.

“The closing speed coming around Turn 12 – it’s so quick now. If you’re not paying attention enough, it happens very easily and quickly. Of course, it shouldn’t happen.”

The Perez and Hulkenberg is one of two incidents the stewards in Australia deemed worthy of having a look at from qualifying. Alpine’s Pierre Gasly was also investigated due to crossing the white line separating the track from the pitlane exit, resulting in the French driver being given his first driving reprimand of the season.

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