Sergio Pérez will start the United States Grand Prix from the pit lane on Sunday after the Mexican missed the FIA’s call to go to the weighbridge during second practice at the Circuit of the Americas on Friday.
The Racing Point F1 Team driver missed the lights asking for him to go directly to the weighbridge towards the end of the session, and although he was wheeled back to be weighed, the fact his team conducted a practice pit stop on this RP19 meant he earned the pit lane start penalty.
“The Stewards reviewed video evidence and heard from the driver of car 11 (Sergio Perez) and the team representative and determined that the driver failed to stop for weighing when required to do so,” read the FIA statement.
“Instead, he drove on and proceeded to do a pit stop where the car was worked on by lifting the car and all four wheels were changed, in breach of Article 29.1 a).
“The penalty imposed is a mandatory penalty specified under the Formula One Sporting Regulations and the Stewards note that they have no discretion to impose an alternative penalty.”
It had already been a difficult day for Pérez after ending fourteenth and fifteenth respectively across the two practice sessions, and speaking prior to his penalty being handed out, he hoped to improve on Saturday to challenge for a place inside the top ten at the start. However, it is likely he will purely focus on race pace during final practice knowing he will be starting in the pit lane on Sunday.
“The track conditions today were extremely poor and there were quite a few people having problems with the bumps,” said Pérez. “I struggled with the balance of the car so I need to try and improve that for tomorrow.
“Lance was a lot stronger – not just over one lap, but also in the long runs – so hopefully I can pick it up tomorrow and be in contention for Q3. It’s most important to improve my race pace because that’s where the points are awarded.”
Team-mate Lance Stroll enjoyed a much more positive day in the other RP19, with the Canadian placing ninth in both sessions. He felt he was able to get into a rhythm quickly, and he will be hoping for a similar position during Saturday’s Qualifying session at the Circuit of the Americas.
“It was a very solid day and I got into a rhythm early on,” admitted Stroll. “The balance of the car was good on both the short and long runs, so we will see what tomorrow brings.
“It’s a track where you can get quite creative: it’s very wide so there are multiple lines you can take, particularly in the middle sector. A corner like Turn 15 allows you to dive in early or take a wider line on entry. It depends on the car and of course the driver’s preference, and I think it makes it quite exciting because of that.”
Stroll hopes the problematic bumps can be sorted out ahead
of the 2020 race but he feels there is little that can be done this
weekend. He says the bumps could cause
issues with the power unit as they could create ‘big spikes in revs’.
“It’s generally quite a bumpy track and there are two or three big bumps that are really upsetting the car, but it’s something we all have to deal with,” said Stroll. “It’s not good for the engine either with big spikes in revs. It’s almost like there are speed bumps out there!
“I don’t think there is a quick fix solution this year, but hopefully they will improve things for next year. It was good to try out the new spec-tyres but it’s too early to make any conclusions and we need to get some more data on them.”
Racing Point Team Principal and CEO, Otmar Szafnauer, says the team will work hard overnight to unlock some more potential from both RP19’s, with the American feeling there were very few dramas for the team across the day, aside from the penalty for
“Conditions were especially chilly this morning, but improved for the afternoon with track temperatures getting up to around 28 degrees – an increase of 10 degrees compared with the start of the opening session,” said Szafnauer. “Getting the tyres warmed up this morning was the first challenge, as was dealing with the bumps on tarmac that is beginning to show its age.
“Performance-wise, we stuck to our programmes as planned and didn’t have any significant dramas during the day. Lance has been more comfortable with the car and Sergio has yet to find the sweet spot. We will work hard tonight to try and unlock some more performance.”