Max Verstappen says he understands why Sergio Perez took such a big risk at the start of the Mexico City Grand Prix but believes his teammate could have left more space.
Perez was attacking for the lead around the outside of Turn 1 having made a great start form fifth place, but turned in too early on Charles Leclerc who had Verstappen on his inside. The following contact took Perez out of the race on the opening lap in front of a huge crowd that was largely there to support him, but Verstappen says the situation made such an aggressive move understandable.
“I understand because it’s his home grand prix,” Verstappen said. “You want to be on the podium, I fully understand that he went around the outside and he tried. Looking at the footage, I think he could have left a little bit more space but on the other hand if it would have worked, you look amazing. I think it’s just more that excitement of wanting to be on the podium and this time it didn’t work out, unfortunately.
“At the time, I didn’t really see a lot. At one point, I just saw that a car was flying in the air, but then I saw the footage after the race and then you can comment on it. But while driving it’s a bit hard because I was mainly focusing on Charles, because I couldn’t see what was happening on the outside.
“(I was) not nervous at all. I mean, it’s not the first time that I’ve been two-wide or three-wide into Turn 1 here. But also, I mean, we all trust each other. And of course, we’re all on the limit, braking into the corner, but it was all fine, I think. But then I saw on my outside that something happened. But luckily, on the inside, we could stay out of trouble.”
With Perez out of the race and Leclerc picking up damage, Verstappen went on to win his 16th race of the season, setting another record for the most single-season victories.
“It’s been another incredible season. I mean, the car has been unbelievable to drive in most places. So when you then, as a team, work really well together and you try not to make too many mistakes over the whole season, then you can achieve something like this.
“I’m very proud of the achievement, because I think after last year, when I won 15, I was like, ‘well, if I can ever try and replicate something like that, I will be very happy’ and now we are here with 16. So yeah, just very happy with everyone’s performance in the team, for the whole year for basically not making a lot of mistakes.”