Sergio Perez has had his Q3 lap times deleted as well as his final Q2 lap for exceeding track limits at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Mexican had his second timed lap of Q2 deleted during the session. leaving him 11th for the final runs but he originally advanced to Q3 comfortably with his last attempt. However, just before Q3 started, the FIA spotted that Perez had left the track on the apex at Turn 8, and stated it would investigate after the session because the drivers eliminated in Q2 had already been weighed and left their cars.
Perez went on to provisionally qualify in fourth place for the Sprint, but following the qualifying session, the stewards stated there was a clear breach that Red Bull 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,” the stewards’ decision read. “However, the stewards considered that this was not a case of ‘gaining a lasting advantage’ but rather is ‘leaving the track without a justifiable reason,’ which is another part of the same rule and which is the section that is 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 that 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 that all the lap times for Q3 for the driver also are deleted.”
By deleting Perez’s final lap in Q2, his only legal time puts him in 13th place on the grid, promoting George Russell to fourth and moving everyone up a place, with Pierre Gasly now 10th ahead of Alexander Albon, Valtteri Bottas and Perez.
Russell was also investigated for entering the track on foot after crashing on the outside of the final corner in Q3, crossing it to the pit entry and walking along the section before the pit lane speed limit starts. With the potential for cars to have still been returning to the pits at that stage, the stewards issued the Mercedes driver a warning.