‘There was nothing he could do’ says Perez, after Leclerc collision sends him out in Saudi Arabia
The tight confines of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit saw five drivers retire from the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and one of those was Sergio Perez, whose Red Bull was tagged by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari on the Lap 14 race restart. However, the Mexican was forgiving of his Monegasque rival, as he unpacked the incident.
Perez was running fifth before the first Safety Car period, which saw him lose places to those who decided not to pit on Lap 10 and instead enjoy the advantage of swapping tyres during the proceeding red-flag stoppage.
Emerging for the restart, he launched ahead of Leclerc but squeezed the Ferrari into the barriers exiting Turn 2 – where Leclerc could do nothing to avoid contact with the Red Bull.
“It was just how the corner was. I felt like Charles wasn’t there because there wasn’t any more space at the time but he still was there, so at that point I think he became a passenger,” conceded Perez, “and yes, there was nothing he could do, I could do differently in that regard. And yes, we tangled.”
“We got past Gasly and Charles and as I was coming out of Turn 3 there just wasn’t enough room for everyone, given how the corner was. I ended up tangling with Charles, he clipped my rear tyre with his front-right tyre.
“It was a bad moment for everyone, but just a very unlucky one. It is just a big shame because we needed those points today,” he added.
While Leclerc was able to continue, Perez too attempted to keep his car moving, waving away marshals on track as he tried to restart the RB16B during the second red-flag period – but his efforts were ultimately in vain.
“I stayed with the car out on track because we were trying to turn the engine back on, we thought we could restart it but it was a bit on the hot side so we had to retire,” he said.
His DNF therefore means Red Bull are 28 points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship heading to the Abu Dhabi season finale.
“It was a very important race for the team today so this one hurts a lot but there is hope for Abu Dhabi. There is still optimism and something to fight for and we will give the final race of the season everything so let’s look forward,” concluded Perez.