Sergio Perez will start tomorrow's Sprint from 13th after being penalised for exceeding track limits in Q2.
The Mexican left the track at Turn 8 on his last flying lap in Q2, just prior to the end of the session. However, as this was not identified until the moment before Q3 started, the lap was not deleted prior to the start of Q3 and Perez started the final phase of qualifying.
According to the stewards, this is a consequence of having many situations to examine in each session. The video was clear and there is no doubt of the breach, which the team admitted.
Red Bull made the point that leaving the track at this point was not a clear advantage and brought data to support that point. However, the stewards considered that this was not a case of "gaining a lasting advantage", but rather "leaving the track without a justifiable reason", which is another part of the same rule and which is the section that is being applied to qualifying sessions.
This situation, where a driver moves through to a subsequent round of qualifying, and then is identified as having committed a track limits breach, does not happen regularly and certainly not recently. Therefore the stewards had to examine this as a new situation.
Red Bull made the point that they took both risk and expended resources to compete in Q3, and while the stewards accepted this point, in assessing a penalty after a session, this is no different than any other situation.
The usual penalty is deleting the lap time concerned, and the stewards therefore ordered the same penalty. However, as a consequence, the driver would not have proceeded into Q3 and therefore, in fairness to all the other competitors, the stewards ordered that all the lap times for Q3 for the driver were also deleted.
As a consequence, Perez drops to 13th on the grid for the Sprint.
"It is disappointing to lose fourth place," said Perez, "the track limits are very tight here this season, but it is frustrating that the team weren't told my lap time had been deleted during Q2.
"We have the Sprint tomorrow to make up ground and a long race ahead, we have to keep our head down and push hard to make progress and put us in a good position for Sunday."
"We feel the penalty for Checo was very harsh," added Christian Horner, "and should have been dealt with before Q3 to enable us to improve subsequent performance.
"He will do his best tomorrow from P13 and try and put us into a better position for Sunday's race."
Check out our Friday gallery from Spielberg here.