Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer is to respond to the FIA over Sergio Perez’s reprimand during Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
Szafnauer has warned that punishing the kind of “hard defending” Perez made in a late-race battle with AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly could be a “big issue” for the sport.
The Mexican was handed a second reprimand in two days for being ‘too close to the limit’ in defence of his fifth position against Gasly, but Szafnauer believes the move was not only fair but exactly what the sport should be about.
“Isn’t that what the fans want, hard defending, good racing?” said Szafnauer. “If we start reprimanding drivers and punishing them for racing hard but safely, where’s that going to take our sport?”
“They didn’t touch. Sergio moved first, before Gasly did. Sergio is allowed to make that move in defence. You can’t move twice but you’re allowed to move once. Gasly got off the throttle, and there’s no contact. So why the reprimand?
“I am bringing this up. It’s a big issue. To me, when I saw that, I thought that’s good hard racing.”
Perez, who was also reprimanded for impeding Gasly during qualifying, now risks a penalty if he receives one more reprimand this year, leading Szafnauer to state his driver will now have to drive “like a saint” for the rest of the season.
“He’s not going to be able to fight hard because then there’s a risk of a reprimand and then you get a 10-place grid penalty," added Szafnauer. "So I think it’s quite harsh.”
Szafnauer also questioned why it was fair Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was not punished after colliding with Perez on the opening lap, and Charles Leclerc also escaped after colliding with Lance Stroll at the Russian Grand Prix.
He added: “That [Verstappen and Perez] was a collision, you’ve got to look at a collision. The Gasly, Sergio thing was not a collision, it was good hard defending.
“You punish that but when someone does collide, you don’t do anything? That’s two times in a row. Leclerc and Lance, a very similar thing, you cause a collision and then nothing. Either we are consistent, or…we’ve got to figure it out.”
What do you think?
Otmar of is absolutely correct and his defence of Perez appropriate. Furthermore, Perez won F1 driver of the day poll which also suggests fans approve of his performance.
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