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Perez edges closer to grid penalty

NEWS STORY
26/10/2020

One of the true stars of the Portuguese Grand Prix, Sergio Perez has moved closer to a 10-place grid penalty following a "potentially dangerous" manoeuvre during the Portimao event.

The Mexican's battle with Pierre Gasly was one of several heart in mouth skirmishes on a day Lewis Hamilton rammed home the total superiority of the Mercedes W11.

Having pitted on the opening lap after tangling with Max Verstappen, Perez fought his way back through the field.

However, a long second stint on mediums then a subsequent switch to used softs left him vulnerable to the Frenchman and Carlos Sainz who were in hot pursuit.

On lap 64 of the 66 lap race, Gasly chased Perez down the pit straight, and according to the stewards, "moved in defence at the exact same time that Gasly who was overtaking to the right having slipstreamed him down the straight".

"Gasly's move was made before the braking zone and was entirely reasonable," added the stewards. "As Gasly was moving to the right with significantly greater speed, Perez moved to the right and then continued to move in front of Gasly for a significant portion of the track but stopped having left a car width to the inside.

"The stewards noted that earlier this year, the drivers discussed “late movement in reaction” moves and agreed that they were potentially very dangerous. The Stewards
considered that this move was at the fastest portion of the track, but also noted that Perez did not move in reaction, but rather moved first or simultaneously. Further he is entitled to make a single defensive move, but such a move cannot constitute a danger to another driver.

In the hearing, both drivers agreed that while on the limit, this manoeuvre was fundamentally okay and constituted racing at the limit.

The stewards however, believed that this was too close to that limit and that Perez had not sufficiently accounted for the speed differential.

In selecting a penalty, the stewards took into account the views of the drivers involved and ordered a Reprimand (Driving.).

This was the Mexican's second reprimand of the season, indeed his second of the weekend, for on Saturday he was given a reprimand for impeding Gasly during qualifying.

In that incident, Perez had just aborted his lap at turn 10, although he was still traveling at relatively high speed. The topography between turn 10 and turn 13 is very hilly, and the drivers have very limited vision of the cars behind them. Furthermore, the time between the turns is very limited.

At the apex of turn 13 Perez's team got a radio warning to him that Gasly was approaching at full speed. He immediately pulled to the left at the exit of the corner. However, at this point the fact that he was at the apex as Gasly approached definitely impeded the Frenchman.

Shortly after Gasly finally passed Perez, Sainz followed through also, demoting the Mexican to seventh.

With five races remaining, should Perez incur another reprimand he would automatically incur a 10-place grid penalty.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Portimao, here.

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