Sergio Perez hit out at the consistency of the Austrian Grand Prix stewards having received a grid penalty for the sprint – and then made a terrific recovery that almost nullified it.
The Red Bull driver initially qualified fourth for the second sprint qualifying event of the season, but had a potential punishment hanging over him.
That was because as Q3 had begun, the stewards announced they would investigate his suspected track-limits violation after the session – and that duly resulted in a nine-place grid drop for Perez.
It meant a lap-time deletion from Q2 which, had it been imposed immediately, would have prevented Perez from going forward to Q3, hence he was demoted from fourth on the grid to 13th.
The 32-year-old bounced back in style, however, and crossed the line fifth in the sprint, which means he has regained all but one of the places he had lost when he lines up for the grand prix itself.
Perez finds himself now 38 points in the World Championship behind his team-mate Max Verstappen, who won the sprint comfortably ahead of Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
Asked if he thought his penalty had been fair, Perez told Sky F1: “I certainly was off the track, so that was correct.
“But what I found very wrong was they don’t quite have the system to be policing these kind of track limits and some people get away with it, some people not.
“I got caught with it. But then the difficulty with it is we only found out after Q3 after we took all the risk, after we put [on] all the two sets of tyres.
“So the penalty was even harsher, but it’s what it is. Today was me, but later on can be someone else.”
Perez felt he had been made an example of whereas others had “got away with it”.
“It was so hard yesterday just to make sure you didn’t…I can tell you, if you look at the onboards from people in Q3 you will find people going off but they just get away with it,” he said.
“So maybe there is something we can do better. That was certainly a bit too much.
“I didn’t even think my car was going to be able to be off the white line there, so unfortunate and I deserved the penalty. It was just something I got caught out with.”
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