Sergio Perez Had a 41-Minute Pit Stop During the Japanese Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez Had a 41-Minute Pit Stop During GPDan Istitene - Formula 1 - Getty Images

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While Max Verstappen’s win at the Japanese Grand Prix secured the 2023 Constructor’s Championship for Red Bull with six races to spare, teammate Sergio Perez picked up another accolade: a record 41-minute-long pit stop.

A series of collisions and penalties during the race forced Perez to first apparently retire, then come back out dozens of laps later, and then retire again. Formula 1 Management has classified the time between Perez’s retirement on Lap 13 and bizarre unretirement on Lap 40 as a 41-minute, 26-second-long pit stop, making it possibly the slowest stop in F1 history.

Fans will recall Valterri Bottas’ “pit stop” at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix where Mercedes mechanics spent over 43 hours removing the right front wheel thanks to a stuck wheel nut. However, the car never actually went back on track during the race and was therefore simply a retirement. Regardless, Perez’s stop is quite the departure from the sub-two-second pit stops Red Bull is famous for.

Perez’s turbulent Japanese Grand Prix began with a Lap 1 collision with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lewis Hamilton, who sandwiched the Red Bull driver at the start-finish straight and sheared off his front wing. The safety car was immediately deployed to clean up the debris, but as Perez limped back to the pits, he accidentally passed Fernando Alonso under caution.

This was an easy 5-second time penalty for safety car infringement, but the race stewards didn’t hand Perez his punishment until he had already come back out on track. Perez returned to the pits to serve his penalty 10 laps later, only to crash into Kevin Magnussen’s Haas on his out lap. Red Bull ordered Perez back to the pits to repair the damage to his RB19 and the car was marked as retired.

However, the stewards only concluded that Perez was at fault for this incident almost an hour later, and the Red Bull was sent out again to serve his fresh 5-second time penalty with 13 laps left to go. The car retired again on lap 43, this time for good.

Formula 1’s regulations do not strictly prohibit cars from returning to the race after they have retired. Article 54.3, which grants the stewards the ability to impose penalties either during or after the race, simply says that the driver has to serve their penalty the next time they enter the pits. If the driver cannot honor the penalty, he or she will incur a grid drop at the beginning of the next race.

Perez could either sit in the garage and face a hefty grid drop at the upcoming Qatar Grand Prix, or sidestep the regulations to only deal with one weekend to forget, not two. The long stop was Red Bull's way of choosing the second option.

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