FIA to quickly change F1 rule after Red Bull exploit loophole at Japanese GP

Ted Kravitz has revealed that the FIA will look to close the loophole that allowed Red Bull and Sergio Perez to serve a five-second time penalty at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Perez endured a miserable weekend at Suzuka and his race quickly unravelled on Sunday, first making contact with Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap before overtaking Fernando Alonso before the safety car line and picking up a five-second time penalty.

The Mexican driver then picked up another penalty when he dived down the inside of Kevin Magnussen into the hairpin, sending the Haas driver into a spin and ending any hopes of salvaging a points finish.

With Checo’s car damaged again and the 33-year-old comfortably out of contention, Red Bull opted to retire the car, but Checo still had a five-second time penalty to serve.

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Ordinarily, this would be converted to a grid penalty for the following race, but Red Bull instead opted to send the retired driver back out into the race to serve his penalty, before bringing him back into the garage for good.

During his notebook segment for Sky Sports F1, Kravitz explained: “They stopped him (Perez) for seven or eight laps, realised that there was a loophole in the rules – the rules say that the stewards may impose a grid penalty in the next race if you don’t serve your five-second penalty infringements.

“So ‘may’ doesn’t mean ‘will’. I think Jonathan Wheatley and the team were thinking well it’s likely that the stewards will impose a grid penalty in the next race if you hadn’t served your grid penalty, so they saw that loophole and asked the FIA if they rejoin the race, will that clear it up?

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“The FIA said yes so they did it and it worked. It was quite bizarre watching Checo go back, I think he was in his jeans already and having an ice cream. He went back out, served a penalty and then rejoined only to DNF again.

“But I can tell you that the FIA, having seen this loophole, are rather minded to close it off quite quickly for the next race and say for certain infringements – if the penalty has not been served, then it has to be a grid penalty at the next race, they are not going to let Red Bull get away with gaming the rules.

“Don’t get me wrong, it was really clever and if I was in the Red Bull team I would say to definitely do it, it’s competitive. It was genius if you’re competitive, never mind the spirit of the rules haha! But the FIA aren’t too happy about it.”

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