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Sergio Perez

Perez's Mexico horror show was an act of self-sabotage

Sergio Perez's desperation to lead his home Grand Prix undid all his good work since he hit rock-bottom in Japan and Qatar. The Red Bull driver's move could hardly have been timed worse with Daniel Ricciardo starring in the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Perez US
Analysis
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

After hitting rock bottom at the Japanese and Qatar Grands Prix with messy, wasted events, Sergio Perez dug in hard at the Red Bull factory before the first leg of the triple-header.

Working with his engineering team in the simulator in Milton Keynes, the Mexican unlocked some understanding of just where he had gone wrong with the RB19, creating an action plan for the then-remaining five races with a single goal in mind.

Red Bull is hellbent on finishing one-two in the Drivers' Championship - a feat Christian Horner would be at pains to remind you the team has never achieved.

With perhaps the most dominant car in F1 history, should Perez fail to achieve runner-up to Max Verstappen, then the season must be looked at as a complete and utter, abject failure for him.

With this pressure ringing in his ears, Perez delivered a perfectly respectable fourth in the United States - with his chances of securing second being boosted when rival Lewis Hamilton was chucked out for excessive plank wear.

Perez suddenly had a 39-point lead, four races (and a Sprint) remaining and was heading to his home Grand Prix next up. What could possibly go wrong?

Even in qualifying he seemed on it, qualifying just two-tenths behind Verstappen in fifth with the World Champion third. Even if Red Bull would have preferred a three-four to a three-five, Perez was still in the same postcode as the 'man to beat'.

His start was also excellent - the launch and getaway perfect as he slipped up behind Charles Leclerc after a slow one for the Ferrari.

Perez's sabotage

Then Perez saw the bright lights and flashy headlines of swooping around the outside of Turn 1 as the hero to snatch the lead of his home race.

The only problem? As he did so, Leclerc was left with nowhere to go with Verstappen to his inside meaning the Ferrari became the meat in the sandwich and Perez came out with a severely damaged car.

Although it wasn't much, based off his Austin and home qualifying performances, Perez had given himself a start. A base from which to view the final races as a 'mini-season', one in which he could firmly nail his colours to the Red Bull mast and more pertinently, shut down any hopes Daniel Ricciardo has of getting back into that seat.

And he threw all that away in a moment that was never on - even if he was entitled to have a look around the outside. A driver of his experience and fine race-craft should have backed out of it way earlier.

It was an act of self-sabotage that looked clumsy, silly and beneath a driver who frankly should know better.

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

The Ricciardo factor

To compound his misery, Ricciardo capped off a fine weekend with a seventh-place finish, looking assured, confident and back to his brilliant best. Horner even labelled the drive "remarkable."

Now that is not to say that Red Bull will be making the decision to dump Perez in favour of Ricciardo based on one Grand Prix - however egregious the mistake.

What will be compared however is the body of work the two can piece together over the final three rounds.

Ricciardo has set the bar high. If he can drag that AlphaTauri into the points in Brazil, Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, he will have done all he needs to do to stake his claim.

If Perez continues to flounder as he did at the start in Mexico, that cast-iron guarantee Horner and Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko repeat about his 2024 seat might not be so secure.

It's up to Perez now. His F1 career arguably depends on the next three races.

Was Sergio Perez right to try for the lead at Turn 1? Let us know in the comments and by voting in the poll!

F1 2023 Mexican Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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