Formula 1

How Perez saved his Red Bull F1 debut in Bahrain

Perez triggered an aborted start when his car shut off during the formation lap and he coasted to a halt.

With no power, the Mexican couldn’t communicate with his team, which sent repeated “radio check” messages that went unanswered.

Despite his relative unfamiliarity with the car and the Honda power unit systems Perez was able to restore power after taking the steering wheel off and putting it back on, allowing him to hear the pit wall.

He was able to get going again and drove straight into the pitlane, from where the rules obliged him to start.

Despite being last on the first lap he recovered with a strong race to fifth to earn valuable points.

Prior to the race the team had to replace his energy store and control electronics after an anomaly was spotted in the data, although it’s not clear whether that contributed to his problem.

“No idea, in the middle of the corner everything just shut down,” Perez said when asked about what had happened.

“I was about to jump out of the car and all of a sudden I started to listen to [Red Bull sporting director] Jonathan [Wheatley]. I just turned on the car and kept going.

“It was about getting the ignition back. I couldn’t hear anything, I couldn’t hear the engineers. Then it went back, so that was good.”

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RBR chief engineer Paul Monaghan said that the team was impressed by the way Perez was able to recover the car, despite the tricky circumstances.

“Before the race there was a small electrical fault,” Monaghan explained. “We dealt with that. On the laps to the grid, no sign of any errors, the car behaved itself perfectly.

“On the formation lap he started to have some difficulties. There’s been a cut-out on the car which protects it. 

“The thing’s lost all its electrical power, Checo has the presence of mind, like your laptop’s gone wrong, switch it off and switch it on again.

“The steering wheel burst back into life, he starts the engine, gets round, comes through the pit lane, waits for everybody else to form themselves up, and starts from the pit lane.

“As is often the case with these sorts of intermittent faults, the car then runs faultlessly for the race of course, which is just entertainment now.

“He did brilliantly, he recovered, he didn’t get frustrated, he hasn’t lost his motivation, he’s got on with it, he’s moved up through the field. He scored us a load of points.

“Thank goodness for his presence of mind. You’ve got no radio comms, we can’t tell him to do the ignition reset and he did it for us.”

Monaghan said the team would have to ensure the same thing couldn’t happen again: “We’ve got something to find there. We’ll track it down and see what’s gone on, fix it and arrive in Imola and hopefully give him a smoother ride.”

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