Max Verstappen move to blame for Sergio Perez accident

Sergio Perez retired on the opening lap of his home Grand Prix last weekend.

Mercedes development driver Esteban Gutierrez believes Max Verstappen played a role in Sergio Perez colliding with Charles Leclerc, at the opening corner of the Mexican Grand Prix last Sunday.

Starting from fifth, the home hero made a terrific start and was contesting for the lead at the first corner, along with Leclerc and Verstappen.

Perez was on the outside whilst his team-mate was on the inside, leaving Leclerc in a Red Bull sandwich.

There simply wasn’t enough room for all three drivers, with Perez having squeezed Leclerc too much.

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As a result, Perez’s right-rear tyre made contact with the Ferrari driver’s front-wing and front-left tyre, sending the rear of Checo’s car skywards.

When it came back down, pieces of carbon fibre flew off Perez’s floor, leaving him with no choice but to return to the pits at the end of the first lap to retire.

Leclerc went onto finish third despite having a broken front-wing, although he was booed by Checo’s supporters after the race.

The collision was judged as a racing incident by the stewards who have been very lenient this season with opening lap accidents.

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Gutierrez admitted after the race that collisions like the one seen at Turn 1 happen sometimes, with him having praised Perez for being “really brave”.

“It’s a pity for Perez and a pity for Mexico,” Gutierrez told the F1 Nation podcast.

“I think he was really brave for trying that move. I mean, in that kind of situation, as a driver, when you get such a good start, you go all in sometimes. And that’s when you sometimes find yourself in that kind of situation.”

Gutierrez, though, does think Verstappen played a role in the accident.

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The Mercedes development driver believes the three-time World Champion moving to the left slightly into the first corner “squeezed” Leclerc into Perez; however, he also notes that the attempted pass for the lead by the home hero was a “bit too aggressive”.

“There was a bit of bad luck,” continued Gutierrez. “An unlucky position there as well because Max moved a bit to the left and then squeezed Charles, and then, of course, Charles had nowhere to go.

“So, if you think about it, yes, it was probably a bit too aggressive. But yeah, it’s just a shame. But I’m sure he’ll recover quickly.”