The Red Bull of Sergio Perez crashes out of the Mexican Grand Prix (Picture: Getty)
Sergio Perez produced his third zero-point score of the season in Mexico City, a result that came at the worst possible venue for the Red Bull driver, in front of his home crowd.
Video has captured a supposed Perez supporter acting with shocking aggression, repeatedly punching two red-shirted Ferrari fans in a grandstand before being dragged away. The man has been banned from Formula One events for life.
Max Verstappen had shot from third on the grid to first in the run to the first corner on Sunday, and there he stayed to take his 16th victory of the season – a new record for the most wins in a single championship year.
His team-mate Perez also made a great launch from fifth, with the two Red Bulls sandwiching pole-starter Charles Leclerc into turn one.
But in a poorly judged move similar to Lewis Hamilton’s on George Russell at the start of the Qatar GP a few weeks ago, Perez turned into the corner too tightly and struck the Ferrari. The Red Bull (pictured) suffered terminal damage and flew off the track.
Leclerc was jeered having followed Hamilton across the line for third place. ‘A lot of booing… guys!’ the Monegasque responded, with admirable calm and reason.
Lewis Hamilton salutes the crowd as he joins race winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull engineer Richard Wolverson and Charles Leclerc on the podium in Mexico (Picture: Getty)
‘Honestly, I had nowhere to go. I was a bit in between the two Red Bulls and, unfortunately, I touched Checo, but I had nowhere to go. So, it’s life. It damaged my car. And unfortunately it ended the race of Checo. But yeah, on our end we maximised our race, so it’s life. Of course, I’m disappointed to end the race of Checo like that, but I really didn’t do it on purpose.’
Despite evidence to the contrary, team principal Christian Horner did not blame Perez for the accident.
‘I was absolutely gutted to see Checo go out,’ said the Red Bull boss. ‘He had probably the best start of the season, got the draft and the tow from the three cars ahead, so arrived with massive over-speed. You can’t blame him, at his home race, going to try and take the lead of the grand prix.
‘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. Frustrating for Checo, and really disappointing for his fans.’
Aside from Verstappen and Hamilton, who took home his best points haul of the year with second place and the fastest lap (going some way to make up for his disqualification the previous weekend in Austin), the biggest winner in Mexico was arguably Perez’s main rival for his Red Bull seat – AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo.
In his comeback from injury in Austin the Australian endured a torrid time but this weekend he was back tohis old honey badger form. Ricciardo qualified an incredible fourth behind the two Ferraris and Verstappen.
Lando Norris and George Russell got past him in the race but to finish seventh was quite an achievement. It was his team’s best result of the year. Just imagine what he might have done in Perez’s car? That’s what Horner must be asking himself.
‘After last week, this is the weekend I dreamed of,’ said Ricciardo. ‘I feel good, better than good. Relieved as well.’
Lando Norris put in a great display to move through the field in Mexico (Picture: Getty)
McLaren marvel at Lando masterpiece
Lando Norris lined up 17th on the grid after a qualifying fumble but did a
supreme job to scythe through the field and finish fifth.
His McLaren team principal Andrea Stella drew comparisons with Fernando Alonso’s iconic 2012 European GP win, when both men worked together at Ferrari.
Asked where it ranks among Norris’ finest drives, the Italian responded: ‘It made
me think of Valencia 2012. At the time we started 11th and won. We were having
exactly this conversation on the pitwall.
‘Will Joseph, his race engineer, turned to me and said, “That’s one of Lando’s best!” And I said, “Will, that’s one of the best of all!”
‘So many overtakes, when everyone was saying it’s so difficult to overtake. I’m
just impressed. One of the best days for a driver I have been a part of. We are
excited to have seen this kind of masterpiece.’
Could the Aussie be in line for a Red Bull return?