Perez blames pit exit configuration as he's handed grid drop for Raikkonen collision in FP2
There’s been plenty of talk this weekend about Sergio Perez and Alfa Romeo coming together – but Perez’s contact with Kimi Raikkonen in Free Practice 2 for the Tuscan Grand Prix probably wasn’t quite what he had in mind, with the Mexican handed a one-place grid drop for Sunday’s race after colliding with the Finn.
Perez, who found out earlier this week that he’d be replaced at Racing Point next year by Sebastian Vettel, was emerging from the pit lane during the long runs in FP2, just as Raikkonen was pounding down Mugello’s 0.7-mile straight. Perez then appeared to lose Raikkonen in his blind spot as he attempted to go through Turn 1 at the same time as the Alfa Romeo, nudging Raikkonen into a half spin, while damaged his Racing Point's front wing.
And speaking after the crash, Perez blamed the configuration of Mugello’s pits for the contact, saying: “I feel that the pit lane exit line goes far too long and it doesn’t give enough angle to the cars.
“It’s obviously a new place, we’ve never been here before. I was aware that Kimi was there but obviously not that close, because when I’m in the pit lane, I’m not able to see him. It’s quite a distance and unfortunately I couldn’t avoid him and that’s what happened."
Asked if he’d bring the matter up in the drivers’ briefing, Perez said: “I think it’s something we’ve got to talk about to see what’s the best thing to do.”
The stewards looked at the incident after the session, concluding that Perez had been given sufficient warning about Raikkonen’s presence, before slapping the Mexican with a one-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix - as well as adding a penalty point to his licence.
Their statement said: “We consider there is some merit in mitigating the penalty and therefore reduce the normal penalty for an offence of this type from three grid positions to one, noting that a grid penalty is appropriate as Car 11 [Perez] was exiting the pits, whereas Car 7 [Raikkonen] was on a fast lap and therefore the driver of Car 11 was wholly to blame.”
Raikkonen, meanwhile, was predictably unfazed by the incident, as he told the media at the end of Friday’s running: “Obviously I saw [Perez] coming out of the pits, and then you lose him at some point, and I was pretty sure I was in front of him… I don’t know, not much happened.”
The penalty will be bad news for Perez, meanwhile, with the Racing Point driver saying that track position will be at a premium around the tight Italian circuit on Sunday.
“We’re looking forward to being strong tomorrow in qualifying,” he said, after finishing FP2 in seventh, with Raikkonen ninth. “The race, I expect that it’s going to be very difficult to overtake… [so] definitely, qualifying is extremely important, and I really hope we can qualify well tomorrow. The car is working well and we should be up there fighting for a good grid position.”