Sergio Perez demands extreme punishment for drivers causing red flag in Monaco GP qualifying

Perez managed to outqualify Verstappen in 2022 thanks to a late Q3 crash and red flag at Monte Carlo

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Sergio Perez calls for Formula 1 to kill any gamesmanship at future Monaco Grand Prixs by deleting the fastest laps of any drivers who cause a red flag in the dying embers of qualifying, ensuring that nobody crashes on purpose.

The Circuit de Monaco is a very narrow track with limited ability to manoeuvre so if a driver has to bail off down an escape road, it’s essentially a guaranteed yellow flag, or even a red flag if they find the barriers.

So, it’s a very underhanded, but useful, tactic for ensuring they start from pole position on Sunday and many drivers such as Michael Schumacher (2006), Nico Rosberg (2014), Charles Leclerc (2021) and even Perez himself (2022), have been accused of using the strategy.

It has led to a discussion for some time that drivers should have their laps struck from the record if they are found to deliberately, or suspiciously, ensure that their rivals cannot go faster, and the Mexican is one of the advocates for the policy to be introduced by the FIA and F1.

“Definitely,” Perez told select members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com, at the 2024 Monaco GP. “I think this is how it should be.

“We’ve been trying to make that push in the last few years, but it doesn’t seem to happen. Just nothing happens.”

Max Verstappen driving during the first practice session ahead of the 2023 Monaco GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen driving during the first practice session ahead of the 2023 Monaco GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Which drivers were suspected of using this trick?

To be clear, Total-Motorsport.com is not accusing any driver of deliberately crashing or attempting to cause a yellow flag to preserve their pole position time. This is a record of discussions at the time of the incident. No opinion is being offered.

Michael Schumacher – 2006 Monaco GP

The most famous example would be Michael Schumacher back in 2006. The Ferrari driver was fighting against Fernando Alonso’s Renault but was losing the battle for pole as the Spaniard was two tenths up as they headed into the final sector.

So, the German, who was on provisional pole, went too deep into the penultimate corner at Rascasse and stopped right in front of the barriers, ensuring that Alonso could not improve his time.

However, the stewards did not approve and sent him to the back of the grid with Alonso taking pole anyway, before he went on to win comfortably to extend his championship lead.

“He performed some absolutely unnecessary and pathetic counter-steering,” Joaquin Verdegay, one of the stewards, said. “And that lasted five metres, until there was no more chances of going through the turn normally.

“He lost control of the car while travelling at 16 km/h (9.9 mph). That’s something completely unjustifiable.”

Nico Rosberg – 2014 Monaco GP

The qualifying battles in Monte Carlo would then proceed without any such controversy until 2014 when another German driver, Nico Rosberg, was accused of using the same trick by Lewis Hamilton in the final stages of Q3 to secure pole during their title fight.

The 2016 F1 world champion was on provisional pole ahead of his childhood friend and as he approached Mirabeau (Turn 5), locked his tyres and took to an escape road, which brought out instant yellow flags.

It meant that Hamilton, behind on track but up on Rosberg’s time couldn’t improve and started from second, bemoaning, “Ah, that’s very good of him. Very good.”

The stewards did investigate but later found that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Rosberg, who went on to convert his pole into a win around 24 hours later. The action was credited as the start of the decline of their friendship into the infamous rivalry they had.

Charles Leclerc – 2021 Monaco GP

Ferrari were very surprised in 2021 when they took the fight to Red Bull and Mercedes, despite being well off the pace throughout the remainder of the season as both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz found themselves in the mix for pole.

But it would end in controversy between the pair as Leclerc crashed at Turn 16 after clipping an inside barrier whilst on provisional pole. It put the home hero on a one-way trip to the wall, leaving Sainz, driving past the other wrecked Ferrari, to complain that it wasn’t fair and he found it unbelievable.

As it turned out, Leclerc could not keep his spot as the team failed to check the driveshaft of his car and it broke down on the formation lap around his home race. It allowed Max Verstappen to go on to win as Sainz finished second when Valtteri Bottas DNF’d.

There was no investigation into Leclerc‘s crash and he was actually defended by Verstappen, who pointed out that he himself crashed at the same place in 2018 and that it’s an easy mistake to make.

Sergio Perez – 2022 Monaco GP

Perez was the next to find himself in the wall with time running out as he crashed at the exit of Portier (Turn 8) whilst ahead of Verstappen, but down on the two Ferrari’s, as he looked to catapult himself back into the championship fight.

The action saw him preserve his third place grid spot, which after clever Red Bull strategy and Ferrari confusion, turned into the lead, allowing Perez to manage his pace until the end to bring home his first ever win in the principality.

Upon review, it was suggested that Perez’s throttle tracing for the crash was unusual compared to his previous lap and those around him whilst at the 2022 Brazilian GP, Verstappen did not deny that his refusal to switch positions with his teammate was related to the Monaco GP.

Either way, nothing came of it and The Mexican’s win stands to this day.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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