Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer thinks Sergio Perez' grid penalty for yellow flag infringements at the Singapore Grand Prix was harsh, especially in light of Nico Rosberg’s similar incident in Hungary earlier this season.
Having qualified 10th at Marina Bay Circuit, the Mexican was later handed a five-place penalty for failing to slow significantly on his fastest Q2 time despite double waved yellows.
Perez also had to drop another three spots for overtaking a slow Esteban Gutierrez under another set of yellow flags on the same lap.
The first infringement bore a resemblance to Rosberg’s yellow flag incident in Budapest, where the Mercedes driver had claimed pole position despite encountering double waved yellows on his flying lap. After investigation, the Hungaroring stewards had cleared Rosberg, something Force India was quick to point to the FIA when trying to defend their case at Singapore.
“We told them that Rosberg didn’t slow down nearly as much as Sergio did and we also told them that Sergio followed the rules,” Szafnauer told F1i.
“The rules are under a double waved yellow you’ve got to be prepared to stop, you’ve got to slow down and you’ve also got to be able to take evasive action if needed. He did all those things, so I don’t see why he needed to be penalised.”
The Force India COO also explains why the Silverstone-based outfit felt Perez’ second penalty was unwarranted.
“[We mentioned] the pass on Gutierrez as well. You’re allowed to pass a stationary car or a car that is going slow under double yellows. Does it make sense that if there’s a stationary car and you come up to it you've got to stop? No.
“So then does it make sense that if a car is going much, much slower - say it has a puncture or a problem - and you come up to him, you’ve got to stop? No.
“So you’re allowed to pass a car that’s going much slower. Actually, it’s more dangerous, he was off line. To slow down to his speed you block the whole track now! Now what happens if someone is coming up behind you? They’ve got nowhere to go. So it’s frustrating.”
Having eventually started from 17th, Perez drove a strong recovery race that featured a mammoth 36-lap stint on the soft tyre to finish eighth and move Force India back ahead of Williams in the Constructors' championship.