Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

“I would be really disappointed to be on the podium today knowing I had a chance to go for the lead and I didn’t take it,” insists Perez despite his home race ending after a dramatic first-corner tangle with Charles Leclerc; Ferrari’s Leclerc booed by Mexican crowd after the race

Last Updated: 30/10/23 12:55am

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A dramatic opening lap of the Mexico City GP sees Charles Leclerc collide with Sergio Perez, with the Mexican having to retire.

A dramatic opening lap of the Mexico City GP sees Charles Leclerc collide with Sergio Perez, with the Mexican having to retire.

Sergio Perez insisted he had “just wanted to give it all” and so “went totally for it” when he sensed there was a chance to seize the lead of his home Mexico City GP, after he made a dramatic exit from the race in a first-corner collision with Charles Leclerc.

Ferrari’s Leclerc, meanwhile, directly addressed the boos he received from the Perez-supporting crowd as he was interviewed after the race on the track by saying he “had nowhere to go” in the incident.

In a rapid getaway from fifth on the grid on the long run down to the circuit’s first corner, Perez placed himself on the outside of polesitter Leclerc, who had Verstappen attacking for the lead on his inside, but as he turned into the right-hander tagged the Ferrari’s front-left wheel.

The impact sent Perez’s car briefly up on to two wheels and flying 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 retire his car.

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Sergio Perez reflects on a heart-breaking day for him in Mexico as he suffered a first-lap DNF in his home race.

Sergio Perez reflects on a heart-breaking day for him in Mexico as he suffered a first-lap DNF in his home race.

Perez appeared crestfallen in the cockpit as Red Bull wheeled his car back into the garage but, speaking to Sky Sports F1 a short while later, the Mexican explained why he felt he was right to launch an attack for the lead.

He said he would have regretted not trying the bold around-the-outside move and was “proud” of how he had driven despite the crushing outcome. He said although he had expected Leclerc to brake earlier he felt the accident as a “racing incident”

“I had a tremendous start. The gap was there and if I’m fully honest, since I was starting the race, I would be really disappointed to be on the podium today knowing I had a chance to go for the lead and I didn’t take it,” he said.

“I just went for it. To be honest, I didn’t expect Charles – he was in the middle, he had less room to manoeuvre – to brake as late as Max and I did.

“I think simply there was no room for three cars. It was a total racing incident and with hindsight…I shouldn’t say that…but in hindsight I should back off and go home. Especially at your home Grand Prix and two times in a row on the podium. I just wanted to give it all and went totally for it.”

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Charles Leclerc said he couldn’t do anything to avoid a collision with Sergio Perez on the opening lap of the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc said he couldn’t do anything to avoid a collision with Sergio Perez on the opening lap of the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Perez, who has never won his home grand prix in eight attempts and has found himself coming under pressure for his performances in recent months next to Verstappen, 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 really sad.

“On the other side, I am extremely proud of myself because I gave it all. I’m very proud of my team. We gave it all for the whole weekend and probably the best start of the year, so we just went for it.”

What happened in the Perez-Leclerc collision? The verdict of the Sky F1 pundits

Martin Brundle:

“He rolled the dice a little bit. He instinctively thought he was on the racing line, he would brake later, had a lot of momentum, those on the inside, the dirtier part of the track and more acute angle into the first corner might brake a little bit earlier.

“But Charles Leclerc didn’t. He braked every bit as late, as he’s entitled to do. Leclerc had a few centimetres to his right but nowhere near enough to avoid that contact with Perez.

“Perez said he ‘went for it and was proud of myself. I would have hated myself if I hadn’t had gone for it’. I feel very sad for him and sad for the crowd.”

More to follow…

F1 heads straight to Brazil for the final leg of the Americas triple header and the last Sprint weekend of the 2023 season. Watch every session from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday, with Sunday’s race at 5pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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