The stewards were involved yet again in the outcome of a Grand Prix, but were they right to give Perez a five-second time penalty despite obeying the run-off rules?
Possibly the most controversial decision of the race was to hand Perez a five-second time penalty for leaving the track at turn three - after a lock-up - and gaining an advantage, despite following instructions to take an alternate route around a bollard before rejoining.
However, given the slower pace of his fellow drivers on lap one, he moved up the order by doing so, which prompted the stewards to give the penalty.
After the race, Perez was adamant that he did not deserve a penalty, whilst F1 race director Michael Masi responded by saying that conversations with the drivers on such situations had happened already after the Monaco Grand Prix.
The stewards' post-race penalty notes read: "Although Perez followed the procedure in the Race Director’s notes [to return to the track by going around a designated bollard], he clearly gained positions when he re-joined the track at Turn 5 and retained this advantage."
"In all cases detailed above, the driver must only re-join the track when it is safe to do so and without gaining a lasting advantage."
Despite Perez's protests, it's hard to see how any other verdict could be reached, especially when you try to put this scenario onto other circuits.
Take Monza as another example of a circuit with bollards for rejoining the track: If a driver was to lock-up into the first chicane on lap one without being forced off the track, run wide, negotiate the temporary polystyrene boards in order to rejoin after the chicane, and somehow gain a position as a result, then many would deem that as worthy of a penalty. Is this scenario at Paul Ricard really much different?
Do you think the stewards were right to give Perez a penalty? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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