Sergio Pérez was due to start fourth in the Formula 1 sprint race on Saturday, but he has been pushed back on the grid as the Mexican was penalised by the stewards for exceeding track limits in Austria during qualifying and will therefore start the sprint race from 13th place. Pierre Gasly, who was eliminated at the start of Q3, could certainly see this late call by the stewards as ‘scandalous’ as he could have claimed a better position on the grid if the penalty had come in time.
During qualifying on Friday, Pierre Gasly experienced a major disappointment. The Frenchman did not manage to get a place in Q3 and was eliminated at the cut off. However, there wasn’t much of a gap between him and tenth place, occupied by Mick Schumacher. Indeed, the AlphaTauri driver missed the last part of the qualifying session by only 9 thousandths of a second. But the disappointment could well be greater than expected for Pierre Gasly.
Quite some time after qualifying was done, Sergio Pérez was found guilty of cutting Turn 8 and received a heavy penalty. After looking into the matter, the stewards decided to erase the Mexican’s Q3 times. They felt that the Red Bull driver would not have been able to reach the final stage of qualifying had he not crossed that white line at Turn 8. It is therefore the best time set by the Mexican before this error that is retained.
As a result, Sergio Pérez will start from thirteenth position in the sprint on Saturday. Pierre Gasly, meanwhile, would have been eligible for a place in Q3 if the stewards had reacted quickly enough to announce the penalty earlier. The Frenchman gained a place on the grid for the sprint, starting tenth instead of eleventh. However, the AlphaTauri driver could have been higher on the grid if he had been able to take part in Q3.
“I don’t qualify by 9 thousandths… I’m quite happy with today, we haven’t had any developments for a few races, so we know that compared to the other cars we’ve been struggling a bit more recently. It’s always frustrating to miss Q3 by such a small margin, but I have to say I’m happy with my lap, it was pretty clean and I was able to put it together,” he told Canal + just after Q2, when the penalty for Sergio Pérez had not yet been handed down.
Afterwards, Pierre Gasly said he was happy with his position, which is ideal to try and grab some points on Sunday:
“We start just outside the top ten for tomorrow’s sprint, so we are in a good position to progress and hope to get into the points on Sunday.
“We need to work harder, because we can’t be happy with the overall performance, but we know we have some developments to come, so if we are able to improve on this current base, we should be quite competitive in the races ahead.”