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Sergio Perez: Red Bull driver 'just went for it' after Mexico City GP start overtake on Charles Leclerc ends in crash

"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 was booed by Mexican crowd after the race

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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

Sergio Perez insisted he had "just wanted to give it all" and so "totally went for it" when sensing 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 pole-sitter 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 onto three 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.

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 struck a defiant tone when discussing why he felt he was right to launch a challenge for the lead.

He said he would have regretted not trying the bold around-the-outside move at his home race and was "proud" of how he had driven this weekend, even if he was "sad" about how it had ultimately ended. He also said that although he had expected Leclerc to brake earlier he felt the accident was 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," Perez said.

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

"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 totally went for it."

Perez, who has never won his home race in eight attempts and has found himself coming under increasing pressure and scrutiny over 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."

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Christian Horner reflects on an eventful Mexico City GP, with Sergio Perez crashing out on the opening lap, Max Verstappen claiming a 16th win of the season and Daniel Ricciardo picking up P7

Horner defends Perez: 'You can't blame him' for trying for lead

Red Bull have continued to back Perez, who has a contract at the team until the end of next season, amid a run of form which has not only seen him drop a long way away from runway champion Verstappen in the points standings but fall into the clutches of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in a battle for second place.

By finishing runner-up to Verstappen in Sunday's race, Hamilton is now just 20 points behind Perez with three Grands Prix and one Sprint to come over the season's final four weeks. Indeed, had the Briton not been disqualified from the runner-up finish in Austin last week on technical grounds, the pair would now be level on points.

Perez's latest setback came on a weekend that Daniel Ricciardo, who has made clear his desire to return to the seat next to Verstappen in future, produced a brilliant drive to take seventh place for his first points since returning to AlphaTauri in the summer.

Perez's Red Bull team boss, Christian Horner, defended the Mexican's right to attempt the overtake.

"For Checo, just absolutely gutting. [His] home race," Horner told Sky F1. "He had a rocket-ship launch and had so much momentum going into that first corner, you can't blame him for going for it to try and take the lead at his home race.

"He's got 13 years of experience in Formula 1 and when you're going through a difficult moment it's important to support him. He was having a great weekend up until that point and he was going for the lead at his home race, in Mexico City. It's insane the amount of support behind him. Three into one doesn't go and unfortunately, he was just on the wrong side of it."

The verdict of the Sky F1 pundits on the Perez-Leclerc collision

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Jenson Button, Danica Patrick and Natalie Pinkham discuss Sergio Perez's early incident that led to his retirement from the Mexico City GP

Martin Brundle:

"Sergio 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."

Danica Patrick:

"Sergio had a run and I understand you're trying to do what you can with that run. Maybe he thought that Charles was going to lift [off the throttle] because he had momentum but, at the end of the day, the last one in, first one out, and three wide is not going to work.


"He's got to just trust that he has an incredible car. He has a Red Bull car - just be patient and let the race play out a little bit and get a solid finish and get on the podium."

Jenson Button:

"Three into one through here does not work. Charles had nowhere to go.

"I think Checo thought he had enough room for Charles on the inside, else he wouldn't have turned in. He didn't want to crash, but he just didn't judge the situation of two cars inside him.


"This is the issue when you have cars that start really well and cars that don't start so well, and the drag is so long to Turn One. What is Checo supposed to do? He couldn't just lift off before the corner and pull in behind because looking at that [replay] there were cars there. So they would have had the opportunity to drive down the outside of him and cause mayhem,

"So it's tricky but it's when you get to that point of deciding 'I'm going to turn in now but I need to give them room. Maybe I'll just run off track a bit and come back on.'"

Leclerc: 'I couldn't do anything' to avoid crash

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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

Leclerc, who sustained front-wing damage in the collision but was able to continue and finished third, said he felt sympathy for Perez but stressed the incident was out of his hands.

"I tried my best to stay on the right as close as possible to Max but I think Checo didn't know that, started to turn in and we collided," said the Ferrari driver.

"It's a bit of a shame that it happens to Checo at his home race. I could hear that many fans were disappointed, and I can understand that, but on the other hand, I couldn't do anything better, unfortunately."

Podium finishers react to the crash | Hamilton: 'He did me in Qatar!'

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Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were in the cool-down room to review a chaotic Mexico City GP which saw crowd favourite Sergio Perez crash out on the first lap.

Watch in the video above as Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc react to the sight of Perez's flying Red Bull in replays of the start collision, in the cool-down room at the end of the race.

Hamilton can be heard likening the incident to the one he took fault for at the Qatar GP on October 8, when he crashed out at that race's first corner after clipping team-mate George Russell's wheel as the Mercedes drivers went three abreast into the first corner with Verstappen.

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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