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Red Bull Racing

Why Red Bull knowingly collected a grid penalty to protect Verstappen

Sergio Perez will carry a three-place grid penalty into the Spanish Grand Prix after Red Bull broke the rules to try and protect Max Verstappen.

Verstappen rain race Canada
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

If Sergio Perez thought his Canadian Grand Prix weekend could not get any worse then he was wrong as the Red Bull driver will carry a grid penalty into the next race in Spain. 

The cause was his spin at Turn 6, when he backed the RB20 into a barrier, damaging the rear wing before rejoining the track to try and make it back to the pit lane.

Although Perez managed to do so, debris fell onto the track from the broken wing, risking precisely the safety car Red Bull was keen to avoid.

After investigating Red Bull and Perez for driving the car in an unsafe condition, the team was fined €25,000, whilst the Mexican was handed a three-place grid drop for the June 23 race in Barcelona. 

The reason for this was that Red Bull conceded to the stewards in the summons that it had told Perez to try and bring the car back to the pits to avoid a safety car that could have placed team-mate Max Verstappen's lead in peril. 

The Dutchman had a buffer of about three seconds to the chasing pack and was holding that cushion comfortably. Red Bull, though, wanted to avoid a third safety car restart that would have allowed the chasing Lando Norris, and those behind, to potentially pass Verstappen in the closing stages.

Red Bull, though, ended up paying the price, both in a financial sense, and as far as Perez is concerned, given his grid drop comes at a time when he is again struggling on track.

The Mexican has failed to make it out of Q1 in the last two races, sandwiching a new two-year contract (a one-plus-one deal), leaving Verstappen to effectively carry the team at the moment in the constructors' championship at a time when McLaren, Ferrari, and now Mercedes, are beginning to consistently challenge.

Red Bull will no doubt deem their call worth it under the circumstances, despite the jeopardy they placed in the way of other drivers coming upon Perez with the rear wing threatening to crash onto the track.  

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - FP2