FIA to review weighbridge offence penalty for 2020
The FIA is considering a change for 2020 to the missed weight check regulation that will force Sergio Perez to start the United States Grand Prix from the pitlane.
The standard procedure is that if a team realises that its driver has missed the red light at pit entry and pushes the car back without working on it, a reprimand is issued.
However, if the car has been worked on, the stewards have no alternative but to hand out a pitlane start, which was the case with Perez.
Article 29 of the FIA sporting regulations states: "A reprimand will be imposed on any driver who fails to stop when signalled to do so, provided the car is then brought back to the FIA garage without delay and that the FIA technical delegate is satisfied the car has been brought back in exactly the same condition it was in when it was driven into the pits.
"Any driver who fails to stop when asked to do so, and then fails to bring the car back to the FIA garage, or if work is carried out on the car before it is returned to the FIA garage, will be required to start the race from the pitlane."
The FIA has acknowledged that the discrepancy between a reprimand and pitlane start is huge, at least for free practice offences – although in the case of Sainz the offence was in qualifying, which is considered a more serious breach.
After the Gasly incident, teams and the FIA discussed downgrading the penalty to a reprimand for free practice – the only exception would be if bad weather cancelled qualifying and the grid had to be formed from an earlier practice session.
That approach looks set to be considered for 2020.
In the case of Perez at the end of FP2, the Mexican missed the red light, was told "weighbridge" by his engineer, and stopped in the fast lane and asked what he should do.
The full pit crew was waiting for him for a standard end of session tyre change, and the pitwall knew that such a change would constitute working on the car. Perez was told to drive around the pit crew, but he misheard and went into his box.
Due to a miscommunication, the crew changed his tyres, before the mistake was realised and the originals were replaced. However, that was considered working on the car.
In their judgement, the stewards tacitly admitted that the penalty was a harsh one, noting: "The penalty imposed is a mandatory penalty specified under the Formula One Sporting Regulations and the Stewards note that they have no discretion to impose an alternative penalty."
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