Sergio Perez’s Mexico City Grand Prix came to an abrupt end after contact on the opening lap with Charles Leclerc at the first corner when he “risked it all for the win”.

From fifth on the grid, Perez found himself jostling for the lead of the race with team-mate Max Verstappen and polesitter Charles Leclerc on the approach to Turn 1.

Perez sought a way around the outside of the Ferrari but the move backfired as he attempted to maintain control of the race at the earliest available opportunity.

Leclerc found himself pinched in between both Red Bulls as the trio reached the braking zone three-abreast, resulting in inevitable contact that launched Perez into the air.

Perez was able to limp back to the pits, but the severity of the damage sustained to the sidepods, floor and rear suspension was such that time was called on his race.

Asked whether he could have afforded Leclerc more space in the race-ending move, the 33-year-old argued: “Definitely yes. But I was not expecting Charles to brake that late.

“I was already ahead of him and he was in the middle, so there’s a lot less room to manoeuvre.

“Once you’re committed to the braking zone at those speeds, it’s just too late. With these wide cars, three cars into Turn 1, it’s not going to end up well.

“But if you decide to take a risk, I decided to take it, and I paid the price.”

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing on the grid.
29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Asked whether he would make the same move again, the Red Bull driver simply stated: “Yes, I would.”

Perez had high hopes entering his home race and had aimed to deliver a memorable performance for the tens of thousands of compatriots in attendance.

Instead, he was left reeling one of the ‘saddest’ days in his entire motorsport career.

“I’ve had some really sad moments in my career, but certainly this is as a race, the saddest one, because of the end result,” he conceded. “But at the end of the day, this is just racing. I go home very sad, but I also go very proud of my time or myself.

“We gave it all. I knew that today, a podium was not enough for me, and I really wanted to go for the win. I saw the gap and I went for it.

“It’s a weekend where I risked it all to go for the win. The pace was there. But it just didn’t happen. This is just how racing is.

“I’ve been here long enough to understand that. You have days like this. What makes me feel proud is that I gave it all. And that’s it.”

During a red flag triggered by a sizeable accident for Haas driver Kevin Magnussen at half distance, it was noted that many fans in attendance appeared to leave the circuit early.

With expectations high for Perez’s return, the Mexican denied that he felt he had let those in the grandstands down: “I felt to be honest I would have let them down more if I didn’t go for it.

“If I’m honest. I saw the gap and I went for it. I decided to take a risk, I knew it was going to be very risky, and I ended up paying the price. Yeah. Risk, reward, it was pretty high risk to take, but it was worth taking it.”

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