Sergio Perez admits retiring from the Mexico City Grand Prix is “the saddest” moment of his career but that he had risked everything to try and win his home race.
The Mexican made an excellent start from fifth on the grid and was attacking Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen for the lead into Turn 1, but turned in too early on the Ferrari, with Leclerc unable to move with Verstappen on his inside. The resulting contact saw Perez sent airborne and land heavily, sustaining terminal damage much to the disappointment of the majority of the patriotic crowd.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 29, 2023
“It’s certainly pretty high up there,” Perez said. “I’ve had some really sad moments in my career, but certainly this is, as a race, the saddest one because of the end result. At the end of the day, this is just racing. I go home very sad, but I also go very proud of my time or myself. We gave it all. I knew that, today, a podium was not enough for me, and I really wanted to go for the win. I saw the gap and I went for it.”
When it was suggested that Leclerc could have given Perez more room: “Definitely yes, but I was not expecting Charles to brake that late, because I was already ahead of him and he was in the middle, so there’s a lot less room for maneuver.
“Once you’re committed to the braking zone at those speeds, it’s just too late. Obviously there is always…with these wide cars — three cars into Turn 1 — it’s not going to end up well. If you decide to take a risk, [which I decided to take]…I paid the price.”
Despite the disappointment, Perez insists it won’t take him long to get over the retirement as he was committed to trying to fight for victory.
“Not difficult at all,” he said. “It’s a weekend where I risked it all to go for the win. The pace was there, but it just didn’t happen. This is just how racing is. I’ve been here long enough to understand that. You have days like this. What makes me feel proud is that I gave it all. And that’s it.
“I felt…I would have let [the crowd] down more if I didn’t go for it, if I’m honest. I saw the gap and I went for it. I decided to take a risk. I knew it was going to be very risky, and I ended up paying the price. Risk, reward…it was pretty high risk to take, but it was worth taking it.”