Jolyon Palmer calls for an overhaul of the fines system

Jolyon Palmer, former Formula 1 driver and now expert on the championship’s official website, analyzed Sergio Perez’s actions in the last two races and believes that this is a reason to think about the fairness of the penalty system..

The race weekend in Japan was not successful for Sergio Perez: he was involved in several incidents, for which he received two separate fines, and even withdrew from the Grand Prix twice.

His problems started on Saturday. Max Verstappen, his teammate at Red Bull Racing, in Japan seemed to reach the next level compared to what we have seen from him this year. He was already ahead of everyone in most races of the season, but after the problems that led to his defeat in Singapore, he seriously intended to make up for this in Suzuka by crushing his rivals.

There he was so confident in himself and in his car, and so determined that he won pole by over half a second, while Perez was content with fifth place, losing three quarters of a second to Verstappen.

It is clear that the characteristics of Sergio’s RB19 are far less suitable than those of his partner, and although the Mexican started the season well, his problems have now worsened. I have no doubt that if he had started qualifying from the front row or at least from third position, he could have easily reached the podium as the Red Bull car has excellent race speed. We’ve seen this at many circuits throughout the season, including Monza relatively recently.

But when the driver starts from more distant positions, the chance of being involved in an incident on the first lap increases greatly, especially on such a narrow track like Suzuka.

Immediately after the start, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz managed to squeeze between the cars of Charles Leclerc and Perez, while Lewis Hamilton took the outside stretch and all four tried to enter Turn 1 at the same time. In principle this could not happen, and usually the worst happens to the person driving along the outer radius.

But in this case, Hamilton’s Mercedes suffered only minor damage and Lewis acted correctly to stay on track. But Perez’s car suffered much more damage as it was hit from both sides, and he had to immediately pit for repairs before rolling back to the back of the pack.

Sergio’s qualifying results have always been clearly worse than Max’s, and we’re already used to him being noticeably inferior to his teammate in one fast lap. However, Perez is quite good at running races – on Sundays he usually acts intelligently and cautiously and shows excellent skills.

But we haven’t seen this lately, so he ends up in unpleasant situations, which obviously raises questions that arise from both the press and the racers.

In Singapore, Perez touched Yuki Tsunoda’s car on the first lap of the race, which led to the AlphaTauri driver retiring from the race and then crashing into Alex Albon’s Williams, depriving him of the chance to earn points deserve, and he received a 5-second penalty. as this did not affect Sergio’s result in any way.

In Japan the matter was not limited to an incident at the start: in Turn 11 he sent Kevin Magnussen’s Haas into a spin, for which he was fined.

It is clear that Perez, out of desperation, made an unsuccessful attempt to overtake the Haas car, as he was stuck behind the Dane for a long time and could not get ahead of him, although he was driving the fastest car of the championship – Sergio really wanted to be right to get. But from the outside, his maneuver looked frankly clumsy – it seemed that the Mexican had suddenly lost his racing skills.

Red Bull Racing even managed to avoid a second penalty when they put Perez back on track in a car that everyone already thought was out of the race. By this time, Sergio had already lost more than twenty laps to the leader, and such actions by the team served no purpose other than formally serving a five-second penalty. Without this trick, the five penalty seconds could have resulted in a loss of position in the next stage in Qatar.

So the team acted logically, but the driver was probably uncomfortable with all this, but he understood that the approach was quite pragmatic. But at the same time I would like to ask the question: should the penalty system be revised on the eve of next season?

Is it right for a driver to receive the same fines for saving a few tenths when entering the pit lane, as Perez did in Japan, and for knocking his opponent off the track? In Singapore, Alonso was given a similar five-second penalty when he crossed the white line separating the entrance to the pit lane, but in Perez’s case, his second penalty appears disproportionately small in relation to the infringement.

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that a 5 second penalty is an inadequate punishment for a driver who has been found 100% at fault for an incident that caused his opponent to lose so much.

We have seen many incidents in the past where it was possible to argue which driver was more to blame for what happened. This happened, for example, during the sprint on Saturday in Spa, when Perez and Hamilton did not share the track. But after incidents such as those which provoked the Mexican in Singapore and Japan, I think it is unlikely that anything can be said in his defense.

I think this kind of behavior should be punished more severely. Sometimes 5-second penalties are costly for the perpetrators of incidents, but more often this applies to smaller teams, and the strongest easily avoid the consequences, as was the case with Hamilton at Monza.

I have no doubt that the break between races will be beneficial for Perez, he will analyze everything and try to reorganize himself somehow in preparation for the race in Qatar. He must perform as well as possible in all remaining stages of the season if he wants to maintain second place in the individual rankings.

Source: F1 News

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