Sergio Perez endured a ‘disastrous’ Japanese Grand Prix which saw the Red Bull driver involved in a slew of incidents and resulted in retirement.
Although Red Bull managed to wrap up a sixth Constructors’ Championship at Suzuka, the team were only able to rest its hopes on Max Verstappen to do so.
Starting from fifth on the grid, Perez’s race was immediately jeopardised on the run towards Turn 1 when he found himself three-wide with Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz, resulting in contact between Perez and the Mercedes.
More debris after further contact behind resulted in an early Safety Car allowing Perez to pit for a replacement front wing.
However, the Mexican was hit with a five-second time penalty for overtaking Fernando Alonso under the Safety Car conditions on his approach to the pitlane.
His weekend worsened on his charge back through the field as he soon made contact with Kevin Magnussen at Turn 11 with an overly ambitious lunge sending the Haas around.
Perez received a further five-second time penalty, two more penalty points and required yet another front wing replacement. But the decision was made to retire the car on Lap 15 before he had served his second time penalty.
The 33-year-old returned to the track some 26 laps later to serve the outstanding penalty before retiring for a second time. It was later explained that this was done to avoid the possibility of the penalty carrying over into the Qatar Grand Prix weekend.
“It was just a disastrous weekend,” Perez said after the race. “It all started into Turn 1 with a really bad start.
“I was squeezed out and I was just a passenger there in a sandwich. I think we carried a lot of damage in the car as well and that just made it a lot harder for us.”
Perez, who sits second in the Drivers’ Championship, albeit some 177 points adrift of team-mate Verstappen, said of his race-ending contact with Magnussen: “I was struggling quite a lot [under] braking with the front end. I tried to weave in but couldn’t stop in time and it was my mistake obviously.
“We need to review the whole weekend to find out what happened because it was certainly a poor weekend overall, so something to understand.”
It wasn’t all bad news for Perez as Red Bull were able to tie up the Constructors’ Championship with six races to spare. However, there were mixed emotions from Perez who had hoped to play more of a role in the achievement.
“It’s been an incredible year, really happy to contribute to the Constructor’s. It’s a very special day for the whole team to finally clinch that title and yeah, it’s been a tremendous year so far.
“The team has done an amazing job. It would have been really nice to clinch the Constructor’s with a 1-2 finish, but anyway. It is what it is,” he concluded.