While race fans might have considered channel-hopping at times yesterday, the Singapore race stewards were kept on their toes, with the street track providing numerous opportunities for drivers’ frustration to give way to red mist moments.
Though Sergio Perez, who earlier in the race had collided with his teammate, was subsequently penalised for moving across on Sergey Sirotkin as they battled for track position, a move deemed “potentially dangerous”, race director Charlie Whiting does not believe it was a deliberate act driven by the Mexican’s frustration.
“I haven’t spoken to him, nor have the stewards as far as I’m aware,” said the Briton. “But it’s hard to believe a driver would intend to hit a rival’s car.
“He’d been trying hard to get past Sirotkin, and he looked a little bit frustrated,” he continued, “and I just think he misjudged how far in front he was in front of him.
“You saw how closely they were racing all the way through 14, 15, 16 and 17, I think he just misjudged it.”
Prior to the clash, Perez had called on his team asked for Sirotkin to be reported to Whiting, the Mexican insisting the Russian was weaving under braking.
“He complained about this happening in Turn 7 and 14, and we didn’t see anything that gave us any trouble,” said Whiting. “Then he complained again, and we looked again, and frankly he simply wasn’t close enough.
“Sergey was maybe just being circumspect going into Turn 14, but as they were approaching the corner, just moved slightly left. It wasn’t as if Sergio was getting really close, he was a good distance back.
“I said to them he’s going to have to get a lot closer if we’re going to start looking at exactly what he’s doing under braking, because it really wasn’t an issue for us.”
With some claiming the incident was similar to Sebastian Vettel‘s red mist moment in Azerbaijan last year, Whiting said: “The safety car was out in Baku. You can say it was, I wouldn’t say safer, but less likely to cause an accident than when at racing speeds. But that’s a decision that the stewards took, and presumably they took that into account.”