After missing out on Q3 with the medium tyres, Perez was due to start 11th but triggered an aborted start when his RB16B shut off and coasted to a halt before the final corner.
With no power, the Mexican couldn’t communicate with his team, but despite his relative unfamiliarity with the car and the Honda power unit systems, Perez managed to restore power after taking the steering wheel on and off.
After taking the start from the pitlane, he recovered to finish fifth and earn valuable points towards Red Bull’s constructors’ championship push.
Prior to the race the team had replaced 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.”
RBR chief engineer Paul Monaghan said that the team was impressed by the way Perez had recovered the car without radio help.
“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.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
“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 pitlane, waits for everybody else to form themselves up, and starts from the pitlane.
“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,” he said.
“We’ll track it down and see what’s gone on, fix it and arrive in Imola and hopefully give him a smoother ride.”