Sergio Perez reflects on Lap 1 incident in F1 Mexico GP as Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Christian Horner add their views.
It wasn’t a sight that the Mexican fans wanted to see at the start of F1 Mexico GP and something that Red Bull boss Horner feared for as well. A good launch from fifth helped Perez to go on the outside of Ferrari’s Leclerc and Verstappen.
But while turning into the corner, Perez and Leclerc made contact which sent the Mexican flying onto the tarmac run-off. It was enough to damage his underside of the floor and rear suspension as his day ended at Turn 1 itself, much to everyone’s disappointment.
Perez had the killer push to win the grand prix which is why he wasn’t too regretful for going all in but he paid the price for the risk. He accepted it as well even though he was naturally disappointed to go out in that manner while fighting for second in the standings.
Perez was surprised by Leclerc’s late brake but didn’t blame him for the incident as in those split seconds things can happen. Verstappen too understood the Mexican’s intention to go for it and same was for Horner, even though he had fears of a crash.
But the blip isn’t putting them down as they will be pushing in the next three races to help Perez keep second from Hamilton, who is now only 20 points behind. Even for the 2024 season, there is no clause to let him go if he doesn’t end up second in the standings.
Perez (how was it): “It’s certainly pretty high up there. I’ve had some really sad moments in my career, but certainly this is, as a race, the saddest one, because of the end result. But at the end of the day, this is just racing. I go home very sad, but I also go very proud of my team, of myself. We gave it all. I knew that today a was not enough for me. I really wanted to go for the win, and when I saw the gap, I went for it. I was not expecting Charles to brake that late. I was already ahead of him, he was in the middle, so there was a lot less room for manoeuvre. Once you are committed to the braking zone at those speeds, it’s just too late, but he was obviously there, and with these wide cars, three cars into Turn 1 is not going to end up well. But you decide to take a risk, I decided to take it and I paid the price.”
Perez (bounce back and letting fans down): “Not difficult at all [to bounce back]. It’s a weekend where I risked it all to go for the win, the pace was there, but it just didn’t happen. This is just how racing is. I’ve been here long enough to understand that you have days like this. But what makes me feel proud is that I gave it my all and that’s it. Yes, it is really sad, the last thing you want to see happen is this situation but it is how it is sometimes but we look forward. To be honest, I feel I would have let them down more if I didn’t go for it. I saw the gap, I went for it. I decided to take a risk, I knew it was going to be very risky, and I ended up paying the price. It was a pretty high risk to take, but it was worth taking it. And yes, I would [take the risk again and do same if need be].”
Leclerc: “A lot of booing… A lot of booing. Guys. I mean, honestly, I had nowhere to go. So I was a bit in between the two Red Bulls and unfortunately I touched Checo, but I had nowhere to go. It’s life. It damaged my car and unfortunately it ended the race of Checo. But yeah, on our end, we maximised our race. It’s life and of course I’m disappointed to end the race of Checo like that, but I really didn’t do it on purpose and I had nowhere to go. I tried to stay on the right as much as possible, as close as I could to Max. But unfortunately, there was no space anymore for me to be any more to the right. I think Checo was probably not aware that I had Max on my rights and started to turn in. And when I saw that, I knew that we will collide at one point, which we did. And after that, I was extremely surprised that I could the finish the race anyway.
Verstappen: “No, not nervous at all at the start. I mean, it’s not the first time that I’ve been two-wide or three-wide into Turn 1 here. But also, I mean, we all trust each other. And of course, we’re all on the limit, braking into the corner, but it was all fine, I think. But then yeah, of course, I saw on my outside that something happened. But yeah, luckily, on the inside, we could stay out of trouble. I understand [Checo’s push] because it’s his home Grand Prix. You want to be on the podium, I fully understand that he went around the outside and he tried. Looking, of course, at the footage, I think he could have left a little bit more space but on the other hand if it would have worked, you look amazing. I think it’s just more that excitement of wanting to be on the podium and this time it didn’t work out, unfortunately.”
Horner (thoughts on crash and if there was no crash): “I’m absolutely gutted to see Checo go out on the first corner. He had probably his best start of the season, got the draft and the tow from the three cars ahead, so arrived with massive over-speed. And you can’t blame him, at his home race, going to try to take the lead of the grand prix. I think you’d have to call it a racing incident, because three into one doesn’t go, and Charles, obviously, couldn’t get out of it and he braked late. So, yeah frustrating for Checo, and really disappointing for his fans to lose him at the first corner. The guys did their best to get him back out but there was just too much damage to the floor and underbody of the car. You could see on the replay that Charles was in a bit of a Red Bull sandwich. The radio was okay, it was just the underside of the car which was damaged. Had he not crashed, it would have been a straight fight between the two of them. So it could have been an interesting afternoon. Checo had good pace this weekend, it’s just frustrating that it was a first corner incident. That was my fear going into the race.”
Horner (what said after): “It’s a tough moment for him. It’s in front of his home crowd, and he was very emotional, and I just said to him, ‘The next race is next week. You’re going for the lead in your home race, you wouldn’t be a racing driver if you weren’t going for it’. I think he would have been on the podium for sure without a shadow of a doubt. It’s a big loss for him here with a car that was capable of being on the podium.”
Horner (P2 in standings and 2024): “He’s got three races now to convert that second place, it is 20 points between him and Lewis. He’s had some misfortune, he’s had some issues but we still believe he can do it between now and the end of the year. It is not as binary as that (if he loses to Lewis for second). You have to got to look at the circumstances and so on, Checo has an agreement with us for next year and that’s our intention to for him to be in the car in 2024 but we will give all the support to ensure he finishes second but there is no pre-requisite that if he doesn’t finish second, you are out. He’s a tough operator, and that’s why he’s in the car, because mentally, he’s always been able to bounce back. He’ll brush himself down and he’ll turn it into motivation. A sprint race in Brazil. Las Vegas, a street circuit, he’s always run well at street circuits. Abu Dhabi, he’s always been competitive there as well. He’ll have the full support of the team to try and achieve something that we’ve not done before.”
Here’s the crash involving Sergio Perez: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-mexico-city-grand-prix-drama-on-the-race-start-as-perez-collides-with-leclerc-and-verstappen-takes-the-lead.1781122202817478487.html
Here’s how F1 Mexico GP panned out
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