It was pretty much a case of hero to zero for Sergio Perez in Singapore. The Mexican produced a stunning lap on Saturday, which while not on a par with Lewis Hamilton‘s was still pretty impressive and enough to secure seventh on the grid.
Unfortunately, the subsequent race was a different matter entirely with the Mexican clashing with his teammate – thereby eliminating him just a few corners into the race – and going on to incur a drive-through penalty following an unnecessary incident involving Sergey Sirotkin.
Stuck behind the Russian, and aware that his (early stop) strategy was being compromised, Perez called on his team to ‘have a word’ and have the Russian move aside. However, as the pair were ‘racing’ for track position, the Williams driver was entitled to do precisely what he was doing.
After several attempts, the Force India driver eventually managed to get by, and when the Russian fought back, Perez opted to give him a nudge.
The stewards investigated the incident and soon agreed that whilst overtaking Sirotkin after Turn 17, Perez moved to the left on the straight and collided with the Russian, which was deemed “potentially dangerous”.
As well as handing Perez 3 penalty points – bringing his 12-month total up to 5 – the stewards issued a drive-through penalty.
Ironically, subsequent stops for fresh rubber and to serve the penalty meant the Mexican had to pass the Russian at least twice more over the course of the evening.
“I have to see the incident,” said Perez after the race. “I closed the door earlier than I should have so I have to double check but I think the penalty was fair.
“It was hard racing,” he continued, “he was defending his position very hard, fighting very hard, moving a lot under braking and a lot of lock-ups under braking. And then as I was going through him, I tried to close the door but I think he was too close.
“In the end not ideal,” he admitted. “It was very costly, but I don’t think it would have changed anything on my result. I knew my race was going out of my hands, it was so hard to overtake. I was just burning my brakes, my engine, my tyres, so it was a massive frustration.”
Referring to the early clash with his teammate, he said he simply didn’t see Ocon.
“It was a very unfortunate incident, one of those that is very hard to avoid,” he insisted. “As I am picking up the power I just get a clip from one car, I’d not even realised it was Esteban, and then as I get the message from the team I was very sorry for that.”
When asked if he would speak to his teammate, he admitted: “I don’t think I have much to say, I’m just very sorry for the day the team had in general. I wish I could have seen Esteban there or done something differently.”