Force India acted irresponsibly in not retiring Sergio Perez before his final lap accident with Felipe Massa, according to Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley.
Perez had been struggling with a brake issue going into the final part of the race, and had been passed by both the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.
Entering the final lap, Perez clashed with the Williams of Felipe Massa at turn one as the Brazilian attempted to pass for fourth, putting both drivers out, and sending the Massa’s car skating across the track at high-speed and heavily into the barriers.
Both drivers were sent to hospital for precautionary checks before being quickly discharged, while a short time later Perez was handed a five-place grid penalty for the Austrian Grand Prix by the race stewards for his part in the accident.
Smedley was notably furious that Force India failed to act, and retire the Mexican from the race, with what he deemed an obvious “terminal problem.”
“I think from about lap 67 – that’s when we got the [radio] transcript but it may have been broadcast earlier – they were talking about having no rear brakes,” he said.
“‘I’ve got no rear brakes’ was [Perez’s] comment and they said: ‘If you can carry on, carry on. But if you can’t, pit’.
“That says to me that it is a fairly f*****g terminal problem, to be honest.
“Why you then leave a car out when you’ve got that sort of problem is a little bit beyond me.”
Smedley noted that it was inexcusable for Force India to leave Perez fighting at the front, while Williams themselves had to tell Valtteri Bottas to tour home with his own brake issues, and when Mercedes retired Lewis Hamilton’s car when he too developed a problem with his brakes after his second stop.
“Today you saw two teams – one of which was ours – call it quits,” he added.
“In our case it was Valtteri and we told him to back off, saving brakes and saving the engine, and more critically brakes because it can be dangerous. We had to back him off and lose points, but that’s life.
“Lewis Hamilton, because of his problem of brakes and engine, had to stop the car and that’s a guy fighting for the world championship.
“I’m a bit peeved to say the least that this has happened.
“Felipe registered 27G [in the accident with Perez] and I think we are all relieved that both of them are all right, because it doesn’t bear thinking about what can happen in silly accidents like that.”
“We were lucky not have someone seriously hurt and lucky not to have collected Sebastian [Vettel] in a side-on accident,” he concluded.
Image courtesy of Williams Martini Racing