Perez first-corner crash realised fears of Red Bull boss Horner
By Ian Parkes
Monday 30th October, 2023 - 4:00pm
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner saw his worst fears realised when Sergio Perez crashed out at the first corner of his home race – but there were no recriminations for the Mexican driver.
Following a stunning start from fifth on the grid, Perez went for a bold move around the outside of both Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen.
Horner claimed Leclerc was caught “in the middle of a Red Bull sandwich”, culminating in Perez and the Monégasque colliding.
As the rear-right tyre on Perez’s RB19 rolled over the front-left of Leclerc’s SF23, the former was launched into the air into the Turn 1 run-off, with the damage sustained leading to retirement after he had managed to make his way back to the pits.
Perez stated that in front of his home fans he risked it all in going for the win, but conceded he ultimately “paid the price”.
“Absolutely gutted to see Checo go out on the first corner,” said Horner.
“He probably had his best start of the season, got the tow from three cars ahead, and so arrived with massive overspeed.
“And you can’t blame him, at his home race, going to try and take the lead of the grand prix.
“I think you’d have to call it a racing incident because three into one doesn’t go, and Charles, obviously, couldn’t really get out of it.
“So frustrating for Checo, and really disappointing for his fans to lose him at the first corner.”
Horner confirmed that if Perez had made the move on Leclerc, it “would have been a straight fight” between him and Verstappen for the victory, which would have resulted in “an interesting afternoon”.
Instead, he added: “Checo had good pace (over the weekend). It was just so frustrating that it was a first-corner incident, and that was my fear going into the race.”
When Perez eventually returned to the garage, there were consoling, rather than condemnatory, words for Perez from Horner.
“It’s a tough moment for him,” said Horner. “It’s in front of his home crowd. It’s very emotional.
“I just said to him, ‘You’re going for the lead in your home race. You wouldn’t be a racecar driver if you weren’t going for it.
“But for that, I think he would have been on the podium, for sure, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s a big loss for him, here with a car that was capable of being on the podium.”