Sergio Perez: Red Bull driver ‘just went for it’ after Mexico City GP start overtake on Charles Leclerc ends in crash
Sergio Perez insisted he “just wanted to give it everything” and so went “all the way” when he sensed an opportunity to take the lead at his home race in Mexico City after dramatically exiting the race at the first corner . clash with Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari’s Leclerc, meanwhile, responded directly to the boos he received from the Perez-supporting crowd when interviewed at the track after the race by saying he had “nowhere to go” following the incident.
In a quick breakaway from fifth on the grid on the long run to the first corner of the circuit, Perez put himself on the outside of polesitter Leclerc, who allowed Verstappen to attack on the inside for the lead, but when he turned to the right -hander tapped the left front wheel of the Ferrari.
The impact caused Perez’s car to briefly land on three wheels and fly off the circuit. Although he was able to drive back to the pit lane, the damage sustained was such that Red Bull had to immediately withdraw his car from service.
Perez appeared dejected in the cockpit as Red Bull drove his car back into the garage, but spoke up Sky Sports F1 A short time later, the Mexican struck a defiant tone when discussing why he felt he was right to launch a challenge for the leadership.
He said he would have regretted not trying the daring “around the outside” move at his home race and that he was “proud” of the way he rode this weekend, even though he was “sad ‘ about how the race had ultimately ended. He also said that although he had expected Leclerc to brake sooner, he felt the accident was a “racing incident”.
“I had a great start. The gap was there and if I’m completely honest, since I started the race, I would be very disappointed if I was on the podium today, knowing I had a chance to go for the lead and I did. “Don’t take it,” Perez said.
“I just went for it. To be honest, I didn’t expect Charles – he was in the middle, he had less room to maneuver – to brake as late as Max and I.
“I think there just wasn’t room for three cars. It was a total racing incident and in retrospect… I shouldn’t say that… but in retrospect I should have withdrawn and gone home. Especially at your home Grand Prix and on the podium twice in a row. I just wanted to give it my all and I went all out.”
Perez, who has never won his home race in eight attempts and found himself coming under increasing pressure and criticism alongside Verstappen over his performances in recent months, insisted: “I’m very sad with the end result because on the first lap to end the race at your home Grand Prix, it’s definitely very sad.
“On the other hand, I am very proud of myself because I gave everything. I am very proud of my team. We gave everything all weekend and probably the best start of the year, so we just went for it. .”
Horner defends Perez: ‘You can’t blame him’ for trying to take charge
Red Bull has continued to back Perez, who has a contract with the team until the end of next season, amid a run of form that has not only seen him fall far behind track champion Verstappen in the points classification, but also down the rankings . clutches of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in a battle for second place.
By finishing second behind Verstappen in Sunday’s race, Hamilton is now just 20 points behind Perez with three Grands Prix and one sprint remaining in the final four weeks of the season. Had the Briton not been disqualified from second place in Austin last week for technical reasons, the pair would now be tied.
Perez’s latest setback came on a weekend in which Daniel Ricciardo, who has made clear his desire to return alongside Verstappen in the future, produced a brilliant drive to take seventh place for his first points since returning to AlphaTauri in the summer.
Perez’s Red Bull team boss, Christian Horner, defended the Mexican’s right to overtake.
“For Checo, just absolutely gutting. (His) home race,” Horner said Sky F1. He had a rocket launch and had so much momentum going into the first corner that you can’t blame him for going for it to try and take the lead in his home race.
“He has 13 years of experience in Formula 1 and when you are going through a difficult moment it is important to support him. Until then he had a great weekend and took the lead at his home race in Mexico.” City. It’s crazy how much support there is behind him. Three in one is not possible and unfortunately he was just on the wrong side.”
The Sky F1 experts’ verdict on the collision between Perez and Leclerc
“Sergio rolled the dice a bit. He instinctively thought he was on the racing line, he would brake later, had a lot of momentum, the one on the inside, the dirtier part of the track and the sharper angle in the first corner maybe a little earlier brakes.
“But Charles Leclerc didn’t do that. He braked as late as he should have. Leclerc had a few centimeters to the right, but not nearly enough to avoid contact with Perez.
“Perez said he ‘went for it and was proud of myself. I would have hated myself if I hadn’t gone for it’. I’m very sad for him and sad for the audience.”
“Sergio made a run and I understand you try to do what you can with that run. Maybe he thought Charles would take off the gas because he had momentum, but at the end of the day the last one was in, first one out and three wide isn’t going to work.
“He just has to trust that he has an incredible car. He has a Red Bull car. Just be patient and let the race play out a bit and get a solid finish and get on the podium.”
‘Three to one here doesn’t work. Charles had nowhere to go.
“I think Checo thought he had enough room for Charles on the inside, otherwise he wouldn’t have gone in. He didn’t want to crash, but he just didn’t judge the situation of two cars in him.
“This is the problem when you have cars that start very well and cars that don’t start so well, and the resistance to the first corner is so long. What should Checo do? He couldn’t just take off before the corner.” and driving after him, because when I look at that replay, there were cars there. So they would have had a chance to drive around the outside of him and cause chaos,
“So it’s tough, but it’s when you get to the point where you decide, ‘I’m going to back off now, but I have to give them space. Maybe I’ll just get off track a little bit and come back.'”
Leclerc: ‘I couldn’t do anything’ to avoid a crash
Leclerc, who suffered front wing damage in the collision but was able to continue and finish third, said he felt sympathy for Perez but insisted the incident was beyond his control.
“I did my best to stay as close as possible to Max on the right, but I don’t think Checo knew that. He started turning and we collided,” said the Ferrari driver.
“It’s a bit of a shame that it happened to Checo during his home race. I heard that many fans were disappointed and I can understand that, but on the other hand I couldn’t do anything better unfortunately.”
Podium finishers react to the crash | Hamilton: ‘He killed me in Qatar!’
Watch Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc react to the sight of Perez’s flying Red Bull in replays of the start collision in the cool-down area at the end of the race in the video above.
You can compare Hamilton’s incident to the one for which he was at fault during the Qatar GP on October 8, when he crashed in the first corner of the race after cutting the steering wheel of teammate George Russell as the Mercedes drivers were down with three rode into the first corner side by side. with Verstappen.
F1 heads straight to Brazil for the final leg of the US triple header and the final sprint weekend of the 2023 season. Watch every session of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday, with the race on Sunday at 5pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW