Pérez given formal warning after calling stewards 'a joke' - ESPN

UniqueThis 3 November 26, 2023

ABU DHABI -- Sergio Pérez was given a formal warning by the stewards at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after he labelled their decision to hit him with a five-second penalty "a joke" over team radio.

The Red Bull driver clashed with Lando Norris on lap 47 of the race at Turn 6 as they battled for fourth position, with the stewards penalising him for causing the collision.

Perez went on to finish second on the road but dropped to fourth place once the penalty was applied.

"The stewards are a joke, man," Perez said on team radio as he returned to the pits after the chequered flag. "I cannot believe [it].

"They have been very bad this year, but this is a joke. This was really a joke."

The stewards issued Perez with a "formal warning" for the comments and offered the following explanation for their decision.

"The stewards explained to the driver that they had no issue with someone disagreeing with their decisions, however comments that amount to personal insults are a breach of the International Sporting Code.

"The stewards note that they are obviously conflicted in this matter as they were the subject of the radio statements and that normally this would be referred to the next panel of stewards however as this is the final event of the season, the matter needed to be dealt with here.

"The driver made a genuine and sincere apology to each of the stewards and explained that he made the comments in the heat of the moment and did not consider the fact that they would be broadcast, and the impact of that.

"He expressed his regret that his comments caused offence to anyone or harm to the sport, which he said he was concerned to avoid. The stewards accept his statements and accept his apology.

"The stewards also note that the driver is not known for making such comments and has always been extremely respectful in stewards hearings. He was also reminded that the stewards are always available to explain their decisions when requested by a driver or team representative.

"The driver, team manager and the stewards had a constructive discussion about the use and broadcast of team radio messages. The incident itself was also reviewed in detail with the driver and although he still disagreed with the decision he stated he could understand the stewards' perspective of the incident."

Former Red Bull driver Vitantonio Liuzzi was one of the four stewards in Abu Dhabi and, speaking before the decision was issued, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said there would be a certain irony in Liuzzi issuing a sanction for comments made on team radio.

"I think he was just venting his frustration," Horner said. "The problem is, if you are a footballer and you are having a rant, you haven't got a microphone on your shirt. I understand his frustration, he's lost a podium, so he has had a vent, but unfortunately that vent has been broadcast.

"I'm sure the stewards will take that into consideration when they talk to him later. I think you have to take into account that that is a racing driver who has just had a podium taken off him.

"I think it does need to be taken into account, the driver steward is here this weekend and is well known to have had a few rants in his day when he used to drive for me many years ago. It happens. He's just fortunate that it wasn't broadcast."