Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that the team received permission from the FIA to allow Sergio Perez to return to the track to serve his penalty at the Japanese Grand Prix. The unusual move is aimed at preventing the penalty from affecting Max Verstappen’s championship campaign.
Perez was handed a five-second penalty for overtaking Lance Stroll on his way into the pit lane under safety car conditions. However, following a subsequent collision with Kevin Magnussen that caused damage to his car, Red Bull decided to retire him from the race.
Red Bull bending rules?
This decision meant Perez could not serve the penalty at the Japanese Grand Prix, meaning it would be carried over to the following race in Qatar in October.
To avoid damaging Verstappen’s championship hopes, Red Bull opted to send Perez back out to serve the penalty before retiring the car. The move raised questions as to whether the team was bending the rules.
Marko clarifies what happened
Marko clarified the situation in an interview with Sky Deutschland, explaining that Red Bull had received FIA approval for the strategy. He expressed relief that they were able to serve the penalty in Japan, stating, “[They told us] if we didn’t serve the penalty here, we would have had to do it in the next race, and our strategy is to prioritise Max.”
Red Bull’s decision was motivated by a desire to ensure that Verstappen’s championship prospects were not jeopardised, especially in the event of a safety car period. By serving Perez’s penalty in Japan, the team aimed to minimise any potential disruption to Verstappen’s race.
This incident highlights the lengths to which Formula One teams will go to protect their championship contenders and the intricate behind-the-scenes strategies used to optimise results.
Marko still backs Perez
Depsite the embarrassing race weekend for the Mexican driver, Red Bull’s Helmut Marko still thinks Verstappen’s team mate can bounce back.
“He had an unfortunate day which originated in the free practice sessions,” Marko told Viaplay.
“He couldn’t match Max’s speed and today just everything went wrong, but we are confident of a strong comeback from him.”
“He drove another incredible race,” Marko said.
“True, he didn’t have the best start, but just as well he managed to control the McLarens, after which he finished the race relatively easily.”
“He was very motivated after Singapore. I must admit that we still don’t know what went wrong there, but we did prove that it was an incident. We are looking forward to the rest of the season.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 24, 2023
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