By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Sergio Perez endured one of the toughest races of his Formula 1 career in the Singapore Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old Mexican started seventh on the grid, but the day quickly became undone after colliding with Racing Point Force India teammate Esteban Ocon on the opening lap. Ocon, who started ninth, was attempting an outside pass in Turn 3 until the pair made contact and it, which caused enough damage to force retirement. The stewards judged it as a racing incident.
The day only got worse for Perez. Following a pit stop, he was making his way back up through the mid-field when he got together with the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin. Perez was trailing the Russian for several laps before making a move through Turns 17 and 18, which came with contact. As a result, Perez was hit with a drive-through penalty and would end up finishing 16th.
“I feel very sad about the lost opportunity today,” Perez said. “On Lap 1 I was coming out of Turn 3, picking up the power and all of a sudden I felt a hit. I didn’t know who it was and then the team told me it was Esteban. I feel so bad for the team because we really need to be scoring points at every race and it should have been a great day for us.
“After that the race became quite tricky and I soon realized it was going to be difficult to score points. I think we underestimated how difficult it would be to overtake the Williams and Sirotkin was defending very hard and moving around under braking. When I finally got alongside him, I tried to close the door a bit too early and we made contact.
“It’s a weekend to forget and I am really sorry for what happened and the points we have lost today.”
Perez also received three penalty points to his superlicence, bringing his total for the rolling 12-month period to five. Drivers are issued an automatic one-race ban when that number reaches 12.
Needless to say, team boss Otmar Szafnauer was less than thrilled with the day’s outcome.
“An extremely disappointing race,” Szafnauer said. “It’s unacceptable for teammates to hit each other and it has cost us dearly. They didn’t leave each other enough room and the contact put Esteban into the wall. We will therefore reinstate the rules of engagement we operated last year after similar incidents, which means they cannot race each other.
“This disastrous race is all the more frustrating when you consider the speed we showed in qualifying and the opportunity that has passed us by. These painful lows are part of racing and it’s fair to say that there are very few positives to take from tonight apart from the car pace. We will have some discussions behind closed doors and will learn from what happened so that we can become stronger as a team.”