F1 director Charlie Whiting – 'Hard to believe' Sergio Perez hit Sergey Sirotkin deliberately

Formula One race director Charlie Whiting doesn’t believe Sergio Perez deliberately drove into Sergey Sirotkin during their battle at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Perez and Sirotkin were embroiled in an intense battle in Singapore with the pair eventually coming to blows on lap 34. As the pair ran side by side through Turns 17 and Turn 18, Perez moved left suddenly into the Williams after appearing to be edge ahead of Sirotkin, resulting in contact and damage for both cars.

The Mexican was awarded a drive-through penalty and three penalty points for his actions — a judgement which Perez himself thought was fair. When asked if he thought the Force India driver intended to hit Sirotkin, Whiting said: “I haven’t spoken to him, nor have the stewards as far as I’m aware,” said Whiting.

“But it’s hard to believe a driver would intend to hit a [rival’s] car. He’d been trying hard to get past Sirotkin, and he looked a little bit frustrated, and I just think he misjudged how far in front he was in front of him.

“You saw how closely they were racing all the way through [Turns] 14-15-16-17, and I think he just misjudged it.”

Tensions had been building prior to the contact with Perez complaining over team radio about Sirotkin moving under braking. When asked about Perez’s radio complaints, Whiting said Sirotkin’s defensive movements weren’t against the rules.

“He [Perez] complained about this happening in Turn 7 and Turn 14, and we didn’t see anything that gave us any trouble. Then he complained again, and we looked again, and frankly he simply wasn’t close enough.

“Sergey was maybe just being circumspect going into Turn 14, but as they were approaching the corner, just moved slightly left. It wasn’t as if Sergio was getting really close, he was a good distance back.

“I just said to them he’s going to have to get a lot closer if we’re going to start looking exactly what he’s doing under braking, because it really wasn’t an issue for us.”