The stewards have once again made themselves the centre of attention at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix with a series of confusing calls.
Multiple drivers in Formula 1, 2 and 3 had been given penalties on Friday for exceeding track limits, and there had been a lot of deleted laps in qualifying for the sprint race in the premier class.
One of those was Sergio Perez, who had gone off the circuit on more than one occasion in Q2, setting a valid lap that was good enough for P13.
The Mexican made it into the top 10 with a late effort, but it transpired that he had also left the racetrack on that one too.
However, the stewards were busy looking at other track limits violations, so they did not initially notice Perez’s transgression.
This meant that Pierre Gasly was eliminated in 11th place, with Perez under investigation as he prepared to start Q3.
Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both crashed in the final part of qualifying, bringing out the red flags, and Russell walked across the racetrack to get back to the pits after colliding with the wall at the final corner.
The red flag had already been brought out, so there were no cars coming round Turn 10, but the stewards warned the Briton for entering the circuit without permission.
This drew a sarcastic comment from journalist Will Buxton, with former F1 driver Romain Grosjean approving.
“George crossing the track under a red flag has been noted by the stewards. Good to see they’ve got their focus on all the important things today,” said Buxton.
“Hahahha well said,” replied the Frenchman.
The investigation for Russell began after the stewards had missed Perez’s incident, and it denied Gasly the chance to qualify any higher than 10th as Perez was demoted to 13th following the stewards’ investigation.
The inconsistency from the stewards was reportedly a key talking point in the drivers’ meeting on Friday evening, where Sebastian Vettel aired his frustrations before abruptly walking out.
The German has been given a suspended fine as a result, but the drivers are said to be “discontent” at the current stewarding situation, with Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich alternating as race directors.