The start of the Grand Prix was not an auspicious one for driver Perez who found himself embroiled in an unfortunate incident in Turn 1. He collided with Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes, instigating an unplanned pitstop for a replacement of his damaged front wing.
Subsequently, Perez was subject to a five-second penalty due to overtaking Fernando Alonso prior to his stop for safety. However, it didn’t end there for Perez – he had another front wing collision when he hit Haas‘ driver Kevin Magnussen at the Turn 11 hairpin, incurring yet another penalty.
Too much damage had been caused for Perez to continue in the race at his usual speed. Regardless, he made the strategic decision to return from his pit box to fulfil his five-second penalty in order to avoid it being converted into a grid penalty for the next race in Qatar.
Team head Horner identified the avoidance of a future grid penalty as the only good thing to come from Perez’s disastrous week at Suzuka. He also noted that the Mexican driver was unlucky to be embroiled in the early collision at Turn 1.
Horner reconstructed the calamitous race with F1 Initiative: “It got off to a bad start. He got sort of pinballed on the way down to Turn 1, that was unlucky for him.” He went on to describe the series of unfortunate events that followed, including the collision with Hamilton and the penalty incurred for overtaking Fernando Alonso under the safety car.
Horner put Perez’s aggressive attempt to overtake Magnussen and the consequent damage down to frustrated, over-optimistic driving: “He goes out a little bit too optimistic, probably out of frustration trying to pass Magnussen…another front wing and the steering damage.”
Despite the succession of pitfalls, Horner managed to see a silver lining: “So, the only decent thing we managed to get out of today was not carrying a penalty through into the next race in Qatar.”
Perez attributed more extensive damage to his RB19, beyond the broken front wing, to his initial crash with Hamilton. Undiagnosed additional damage, he believes, is likely the cause of his collision with Magnussen. Perez took responsibility for crashing into the Dane’s Haas, acknowledging his brake problems and explaining, “I just wouldn’t stop in time and it was my mistake, obviously.”