Sergio Perez penalised with Australia GP grid drop after Red Bull error

The Mexican driver put his car third on the grid but he will start Sunday’s race from further down

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Saturday 23 March 2024 09:03 GMT
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Sergio Perez has been handed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver had put his car third on the grid, behind team-mate Max Verstappen in pole and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in second.

However, the Mexican was adjudged by the stewards to have impeded Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg during a flying lap in Q1 of qualifying on Saturday, thus hitting him with a three-place grid drop.

It means Perez will start in sixth, with Lando Norris promoted to third, Charles Leclerc to fourth and Oscar Piastri to fifth.

In explaining the decision, the stewards said: "Hulkenberg was on a fast lap when he approached turn 13. 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.

Sergio Perez has received a penalty for the Australian Grand Prix (Getty Images)

“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."

Perez is currently second in the drivers’ championship having finished second in both of the opening races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The 34-year-old is in the final year of his Red Bull contract.

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