Sergio Pérez will have a new Sauber C30 chassis at his disposal for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix after the Mexican rookie’s was severely damaged during the Malaysian Grand Prix, forcing his retirement from last weekend’s race.
Despite there being just a week between races at Sepang and the upcoming Shanghai round, Pérez’s C30/01 chassis is being freighted back to the team’s Swiss base in Hinwil while the factory quickly arranges to freight a new car ahead of this weekend.
Pérez’s retirement is certainly one of the more unusual in recent times – although very high-risk – after his car was struck by a 6-kilogram piece of ballast that was jettisoned from Sébastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso during the race.
Describing the current state of the chassis as “pretty bad”, team manager Beat Zehnder remained upbeat that the C30/01 would be back in action, based on the team’s past ability to repair its damaged cars.
But the stray ballast certainly did cause alarm for the Swiss squad, with Zehnder describing the impact as being like “a bomb” going off in the car.
“We have informed the FIA,” he added.
The stray car part incident was the second for Toro Rosso and Buemi, whose STR6 spectacularly shed its engine cover during qualifying (pictured left).
No doubt the sport’s governing body will be looking at the issue closely, especially in the wake of Felipe Massa’s life-threatening accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, where the Brazilian was struck in the head by a spring that fell off the back of Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP.
Only a few years before at the Hungaroring race in 2005, David Coulthard comprehensively destroyed his Red Bull when he collected Fernando Alonso’s front wing, which had become detached on the opening lap. The front wing contained so much ballast that the impact ripped the front wheels clean off DC’s car.