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F1 needs fix for third car rebuild rule breaches – Horner

Formula 1 teams should lobby the FIA to change the ‘third car’ rules that force drivers into a pitlane start following major repairs, says Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Last weekend in Qatar marked the second round in a row where the FIA required a driver to start from the pitlane after mechanics surpassed how far a car could be built without inspection.

Sergio Perez was eliminated in the Losail sprint race as part of a three-car pile-up involving Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg, all of whom escaped without blame from the stewards.

But the crashed RB19 was deemed to be beyond repair, so Red Bull was forced to make up a replacement chassis, but the build exceeded the regulated survival cell stage (cockpit and fuel tank) without being supervised by the governing body.

In addition, the work continued beyond the two-hour limit after the sprint race, by which time the FIA requires all cars to be covered and ready for seals to be applied.

For this, Perez - as per Williams driver Logan Sargeant in Japan - was required to start from the pitlane. But Horner reckons F1 needs to devise “a more sensible” solution.

He said: “I think it's something that team managers need to look at, something a bit more sensible, because now for two weeks with Williams and ourselves, it has been far from ideal.”

Horner added that there was “no chance” Red Bull could have built up this third team car yet still have complied with the sporting regulations.

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the team principals Press Conference

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the team principals Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

He continued: “No chance. With the damage to the crash structure and so on, that would have been impossible… They did a phenomenal job to turn it all around.”

Such was the extent of the rebuild job that the crew dedicated to team-mate Max Verstappen’s car stayed late on a day where their driver was crowned a three-time world champion to help with the Perez repairs.

Unlike Perez, Sargeant was also tagged with a 10-second penalty prior to the Japanese GP.

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Williams changed the specification of the parts fitted to his car compared to what was installed in Q1 at the time of his shunt.

This meant he already qualified for a pitlane start, so the stewards moved to separately punish the team for breaches of the survival cell and two-hour rules.

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