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Former F1 World champion Jenson Button has leapt to the defence of Sergio Perez after he collided with Charles Leclerc on the first corner of the Mexico City Grand Prix. Button believes the Red Bull driver was left with no alternative at the time, but has admitted Perez “didn’t judge the situation.”
The incident occurred shortly after the cars left the starting grid, which saw Perez start from fifth and instantly rush towards the front of the pack. The Spanish driver made an early attempt to go around the outside of Leclerc on the first corner, only to clip the Ferrari’s front wheels and spin off the track.
Perez’s car briefly flew into the air and balanced on one wheel after the impact before rolling off the circuit. The Red Bull car was able to make it to the pit lane but had sustained enough damage to force the driver to retire from the race.
Following the incident, former F1 driver and 2009 world champion, Jenson Button claimed neither Perez nor Leclerc were at fault for the incident.
“Three into one through here does not work. Charles had nowhere to go,” Button said via Sky Sports. “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.'”
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The incident saw Leclerc sustain damage on his Ferrari’s front-wing, but he was able to finish the race in third behind Lewis Hamilton in second and current world champion Max Verstappen. Speaking after the race, Leclerc expressed his sympathies towards Perez.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Perez also addressed the incident, adding: “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.”
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