In what was considered a risky maneuver, Perez, the Red Bull Racing‘s star racer, managed to claw his way to an eighth-place finish, following a collision with a Williams driver during a sharp left-hander at Turn 13. Despite the thrilling finish, the mid-race incident saw contact made at the apex, ultimately forcing Albon off his course. To prevent further catastrophe, Albon was compelled to slam on the brakes, locking his tyres as a preemptive strategy to dodge the exterior wall.
The dramatic incident prompted race directors to bring both drivers before the FIA race stewards. Offering their perspective on the matter, they deduced that Albon, who would end up finishing eleventh, was on course to take the usual racing line through the corner. Consequently, he was utterly unaware of Perez’s RB19‘s exact position.
However, it was not Albon who was held responsible for the collision. Instead, Perez’s rush towards the inside was viewed as an overly optimistic, late move that could best be described as “diving in”. The stewards further assessed that Albon was left with no option but to deal with the impending crash.
The fallout from the incident saw Perez predominantly held accountable, with a five-second penalty imposed as a punitive measure. Additionally, a point was added to his FIA superlicense. Despite these penalties, the Mexican racer retained his eighth-place finish. His closest competitor, AlphaTauri‘s stand-in Liam Lawson, finished 13s behind him.
Albon voiced his grievances post-race, expressing regret over the missed opportunities. “We did the race perfectly. I was running P9, was about to overtake Liam for P8, then I got dive-bombed by Checo into Turn 13,” he lamented, “He T-boned me and I went straight on into the wall, I had to reverse out, I dropped to 13th and I finished 11th so we should have scored points today and we didn’t.”
The stewards pointed towards Lawson’s involvement in the Perez-Albon clash. They suggested that Perez might have been encouraged to make the mid-race overtake due to Lawson’s slower speed. Acting as the stand-in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo, Lawson’s role was deemed significant enough to limit Perez to a single penalty point.
In another related incident, Albon was absolved of allegations suggesting he overtook Perez under virtual safety car conditions. The Williams driver was rejoining the track after a pit stop and the timing system was unable to confirm which car crossed the second safety car line first. Video footage proved unhelpful in resolving the ambiguity. Both team reps opted not to press for a penalty, a sentiment shared by the stewards.