Charles Leclerc told Mexico City Grand Prix fans that he did not crash into Sergio Perez "on purpose" following their first lap collision.
On the run down to Turn 1, Perez attempted, legitimately to go around the outside of Leclerc and swoop into the corner to take the lead - but the Ferrari was sandwiched between Perez and Max Verstappen on the inside.
Perez was pitched high into the air and sustained severe damage to the floor and sidepods of his RB19, putting him out and severely denting his hopes of finishing second in the Drivers' as nearest rival Lewis Hamilton finished second, with fastest lap, to reduce the deficit to 20 points.
Verstappen won his record 16th race of the season as Leclerc took third from pole, but was met with boos in parc ferme.
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Leclerc booed by fans
"There is a lot of booing guys, I mean honestly, I had nowhere to go," Leclerc replied when met with a chorus of boos.
"I was in-between the two Red Bulls and unfortunately, I touched Checo but I had nowhere to go - it damaged my car and unfortunately ended the race of Checo.
"It's life, I'm disappointed to end the race of Checo like that, but I really didn't do it on purpose and I had nowhere to go.
"We struggled a bit with the Hard tyres after the [red flag] restart, Lewis was really quick on the Mediums and they managed to have good degradation - so they were just better today."
Leclerc was summoned by stewards over driving unsafely due to the front-wing flapping before the end-plate fell off.