Start, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023

Perez made “best start of the year” and “just went for it” in first-lap crash

Formula 1

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Sergio Perez says he had to take his chance to grab the lead of the race when he crashed out at the start of the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver retired after colliding with Charles Leclerc on the first lap of his home race.

Perez started fifth on the grid, four places behind pole-winner Leclerc. The Ferrari driver didn’t get away well and came under attack from Max Verstappen his inside.

But Perez also got away quickly, and drew to the outside of Leclerc. As he turned in, the Red Bull and the Ferrari made contact, and Perez’s car was launched into the air. He spun into the run-off area as it landed, and although he was able to drive back to the pits, he retired there.

Perez said he had “a tremendous start” and “the gap was there” and he felt he would “be really disappointed to be on the podium today, knowing that I had a chance to go for the lead and I didn’t take it.”

“So I just went for it,” he told Sky after retiring from the race. “To be honest, I wasn’t expecting Charles – he was in the middle, he had less room for manoeuvre – to brake that late, as late as I did or Max it.

“I think simply there was no room for three cars. It was total race incident. In hindsight – I don’t know, I shouldn’t say that but in hindsight I should back off and go home.”

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Despite his frustration at retiring from his home race on the first lap, Perez said he was happy at the improvement he’d made this weekend.

“I went totally for it. I’m very sad for the end result because on the first lap to end the race at your home grand prix, it’s definitely really sad.

“But in the other hand, I’m extremely proud of myself, because I gave it all. I’m very proud of my team. We left it all the whole weekend. We have, I think, probably the best start of the year so we just went for it.”

Perez arrived at his home race following a series of poor results. He said the weekend showed “we are back” and “the result will come.”

“Our pace is there. We knew what was wrong and then the results will come. I’m not concerned about it. I’m more sad about the end result. You’ll see with a lot of drivers that they have bad weekends when they were not fully comfortable.

“I mean, look at the weekend from Fernando [Alonso]. And it’s not like Fernando is a bad driver and all of a sudden he is struggling to find the best of his car. This is just part of the game. I have no doubt that I will be back for Sao Paulo.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Perez made “best start of the year” and “just went for it” in first-lap crash”

  1. He attempted to take the normal racing line with 2 cars to his right. That was never going to work. The actions of a desperate driver. Shame as he was in for a good result today.

  2. Interviewed during the race, Perez first called it a ‘racing incident’ but then effectively admitted he had gone all or nothing to take the lead. And came away with nothing.
    You can ask ‘why?!’ but really you’d be left just trying to understand his own delusion that somehow, even if he grabbed the lead off both Leclerc and Verstappen at that corner, he would go on to win the race. It was a huge gamble for what would have been a very temporary lead. Because Verstappen is much faster, always. Just terrible decision making.

    1. Yup, spot on.

      Absolutely mind-boggling that he could be proud of that… Delusion indeed.

      1. Perez is toast. I suspect RB have already had a conversation with him about leaving.
        Dr Marko has told him to clear his locker in the garage by Abu Dhabi at the latest.

    2. @david-br : i get your point. but at this time[or anytime during his stay with RBR], P2 is like a P1 for him. Its the best he can and could ever achieve racing with and against Max. I believe had he made the corner, it would have been a clear/clean P2 finish for him. I wont defend his decision in taking that line in that corner, but i think its a bit harsh to call it terrible. Perhaps i am starting to feel sorry for him.

      1. Just an addendum. He got a reasonably good start but there’s a chance that he could have gotten stuck behind Carlos/Lewis for a good few laps and that would have made overtaking Charles [for p2] a bit more difficult. Maybe this was additional fuel to his desperate attempt.

        1. @webtel Perez’s qualifying positions this year tell a story:
          2 1 20 3 1 20 11 12 15 16 9 3 7 5 13 5 13 9 5
          So the last time he was in third off the grid was way back in Hungary. That’s in one of the fastest (greatest) cars in Formula 1’s entire history.
          Arriving at the first corner in third could, therefore, have finally been a great chance for Perez to slot in behind Leclerc and then calmly pass him into second at some point in the opening laps or even with the undercut later. But as he admitted later, he gambled everything on grabbing second before completing the first corner.
          I’m not sure feeling sorry for him helps much. I think he lost his way for the entire season after Miami, race 5, when he took pole but Max breezed past him for the win. The qualifying stats above make that clear. So my prediction would be for next season to be much the same if not worse. Especially as other teams will likely be somewhat closer to Red Bull. I’d put Ricciardo there for a season. I mean, he can’t do any worse and will probably do a lot better. Putting Lawson there carries the risk of too much pressure setting back his development as we saw with Albon and Gasly. There are few younger drivers who could cope (just Piastri, basically, I’d guess).

        2. Or they could do the spectacular and sign Norris or Leclerc. But sadly no chance of happening in the current Formula 1 era.

    3. Yeah, he said he thought, hoped, somehow expected Leclerc to just fall back, break early. Which doesn’t make sense when you are racing each other. I guess in the moment he felt he could do it and went with that. Which obviously did not work.

  3. I feel sorry for Perez. He had the start of his life and it was very unfortunate it ended like that.

    It serves his fans right, though. Such an ignorant crowd booing Leclerc.

    1. Coventry Climax
      29th October 2023, 23:12

      There’s nothing ‘unfortunate’ about going around the outside and then steer straight for the apex with two cars on the inside. Something’s lacking in Perez, and it showed yet again today.

    2. That’s a little overly harsh. They cheered Max (who they were supposedly going to kill) and tons of other drivers. We’ve seen equally biased booing at other tracks. Finally, I think the main source of boos is that likely, at least half the crowd don’t know anything about F1 and all they knew was that another driver had crashed into their favorite driver (so, lol, I guess that does qualify as ignorance. However, there were so many people in that one area that even 15% of the crowd booing would be very loud.

      1. Coventry Climax
        30th October 2023, 11:49

        They might have been booing other people, and for another reason too:
        Most of the audience paid for a ticket to see Perez, and they didn’t even get to see him go by just once.

        (This is bull manure ofcourse, but a narrative like this seems to work on a lot of occasions. ;-) )

  4. Pain for Checo, although pretty much on him, he would have known the Max was on the inside and that Leclerc would have had nowhere to go…

  5. That was such a dumb move by Perez I couldn’t believe how inconsiderate he was.
    A smart driver would’ve even purposely run wide and go outside the track to avoid anything that was happening on the inside of that turn, including a potential collision between Verstappen and Leclerc. But Perez just assumed they would disappear….

    1. Or just hoped any collision would be between them? It would be the only outcome in which he wins the race.
      If he was a better racer, maybe he could have made it work, keeping round the outside, sticking close to Leclerc without closing the gap completely. A few more meters and maybe Leclerc has contact with Verstappen instead. I can imagine a few other drivers good enough to try that if they were really desperate for the win. Still a roll of the dice though. But the way Perez just lunged into the corner, Leclerc had no time to think.

  6. This race must make it a lot easier for R.B. to re-shuffle their racing seats. Checo and Yuki just cannot handle the pressure and maximize the potential of their cars…

  7. Based on the precedent set in Qatar, I think we have to blame this one on Verstappen for not thinking of the team and letting Checo through?

    In seriousness, though, that was very poor racecraft from Perez. If anyone ever needs a video to go over the cliche that “You can’t win the race in the first corner, but you can lose it,” they’ve got a great example right here.

  8. To all the pro racers here – lap 1 turn 1 incidents like this can happen. Drivers need to make their decisions within fractions of a second. And sometimes it results like this. Thats racing.
    The way Norris avoided being sandwiched at the restart was the other extreme. Right choice and some luck saves him and others from a bigger crash.

    1. I’m sorry, but I’ve raced for going on 20 years and that move was as dumb as it gets. And it wasn’t a split second decision. They had a long run down to turn 1 and he knew he wasn’t even close to being ahead of CL.

      While I was gutted for Checo, it was clear that he was dreaming of some sort of miracle start and move with the crowd exploding in rapturous applause. But that’s all it was. A dream move. No sane driver, even at the club level, would dare try and turn in from the outside on a driver sandwiched three wide.

      1. I gotta agree. Even if he backed out of it, he would have gone around the outside the car/s behind and stood a good chance of emerging in 3rd place.

        That would still have been an impressive start.

        He just got too greedy

  9. When will these guys learn that you can squeeze one competitor and get away with it, even if it’s not classy race craft, but you can’t squeeze two at the same time.

    A desperate move from a desperate man.

  10. I think RedBull have probably already decided Perez will be replaced, but I don’t think any driver on the grid would want to be his replacement for the Mexican Grand Prix.
    Imagine if they had replaced Perez after Austin, his replacement would have been in fear of their life in Mexico.

  11. So, when Hamilton did exact the same move, it was Russells fault, for not letting him through.

    When Checo did it, it was dumb, and he should have realised that this was never going to work.

    How peoples minds can change in a a few weeks…

    Below you can read the comments of the die hard Hamilton fans, explaining why this was different:

    1. It was a dumb move, but nowhere near as dumb or delusional as this move. I saw very few people, besides a couple of the usual mindless worshippers, saying it wasn’t Lewis fault. And Lewis admitted it himself. So, not sure how you can defend Perez on the basis of a tiny, equally wrong, minority defending Lewis.

      1. “usual mindless worshippers”
        DavidBR & Michaelfreelittlebirds, please stand up.

        1. Ah thanks. I actually said Hamilton was to blame for the Perez-style swoop into the corner, cutting across Russell. His fault entirely for that bit. However, there was more than one moment involved in the run up to the first corner. I do think Russell could have played a team game and let Hamilton get a clear run on Verstappen in the first place, but he wanted to race his own race. Bouncing that back to Hamilton, he should know that by now and have expected Russell contesting the corner too.

      2. Lewis said in the cooldown room after the race that Perez did what he did in Qatar which I found that quite amusing. I really appreciate that side of Lewis when he is more light hearted.

      3. I’m certainly not trying to defend Perez, I’m just trying to point out why it was ridiculous to defend Lewis.

        1. This guy: With the equally rediculous assumption that it were the same people?

        2. The key difference is Perez was racing a rival from another team instead of his teammate. Expecting Leclerc to get out of his way at the apex was stupid. Ultimately Hamilton expecting Russell to let him have a run at Verstappen proved misguided too but it was at least slightly more feasible than Leclerc just letting Perez pull one round the outside at turn one.

  12. If I had a dollar for every time Pérez forced a 3-wide on the outside and got taken out as a result, I’d have at least two dollars.

  13. Bit embarrassing for someone who’s been in the sport for over a decade to crash like that. Surely it was obvious there was no space for him to turn into, so he should’ve just backed out and even just gone off the track to avoid the collision. He could’ve recovered from there and got a decent result. Can kind of see why he didn’t do that though, desperation and not wanting to look timid or back down in his home race I guess.

    1. Not just a bit; it would have been an easy 2nd place in the race as he’d have had 70 laps to pass Leclerc – which is super easy in a Red Bull. Now he has zero points, and based on Hamilton’s current form he’ll likely lose 2nd in the WDC. Even with that DSQ from 2nd for Hamilton in Austin.

      Pérez has produced one of the worst seasons in a dominant car in F1 history.

  14. I think after Miami, Perez realised he couldn’t beat Verstappen so he made the decision to stop developing himself for this year, and focus on developing himself for next season.

  15. It was a racing incident, yes. A bit like Hamilton on Verstappen and Russell two races ago. But again the driver on the outside does have to make allowance for the two other cars that he knows are inside of him. If you’re coming from behind you have the whole picture and should know that you can’t turn in like normal. It’s poor decision making and poor spacial awareness. Both we’ve seen from Perez quite often these days. Fortunately Leclerc and Verstappen could continue (relatively) unarmed.

  16. It was the move of a driver who has been in a bad form and knew he was racing his final home grand prix. Had that move worked, there was a sniff of a race win, a win that would have allowed him to retire at the end of the year with some saving grace. I can understand why he went for it. Alas, it didn’t work. Nevertheless, the man at least tried his best to achieve something out of the season.

    I think he should retire. He has had some amazing moments in his career, the 2020 season, he achieved most of the customer car podiums that were achieved in 2014-2019 era, saving Force India using Lawrence Stroll, his 2012 near miss. It’s a career to be proud of inspite of 2023. Time to spend some time home.

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