Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has accused Lewis Hamilton of putting “a big hole” in Sergio Perez’s sidepod during their clash in the Belgian Grand Prix sprint race.
The pair made contact at Stavelot as they battled over fourth position, with Perez suffering a dramatic loss of performance in the aftermath, running into the gravel at the same corner a lap later before being called in to retire the car by Red Bull.
Hamilton finished fourth of the road at Spa, but was demoted to seventh in the final classification after being slapped with a five-second time penalty for causing a collision.
Lewis Hamilton collides with Sergio Perez during Spa sprint
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Horner described the collision as “very unfortunate” and revealed the extent of the damage to Perez’s car.
He said: “Unfortunately, the contact – left-front to sidepod – has put a big hole in the sidepod and you lose so much downforce.
“You could see he really lost a huge amount of performance, so we had no choice but to retire the car. That was very unfortunate.”
Perez’s team-mate Max Verstappen took Red Bull’s third sprint race victory of the season after overhauling McLaren driver Oscar Piastri, who jumped the reigning World Champion after pitting for intermediates at the first available opportunity.
Verstappen pitted a lap later and overtook Piastri for the lead on the Kemmel straight, having noticed that his rival’s front-left tyre was struggling.
Horner explained it was more sensible for Verstappen to complete the first racing lap before pitting for intermediates, rather than risk being caught up in the chaos of a pit lane stampede.
Asked to outline the challenges of Verstappen’s race, he said: “Two significant challenges.
“One was deciding when to take the pitstop because obviously the privilege of being first in the pit lane means you have the whole of the grid potentially coming in behind you, which was why we felt it was the safer thing to do with Max to take the start and obviously pit Checo.
“Checo had an amazing stop and a great release that jumped both the Ferrari and Lewis, so that elevated him to fourth.
“And then, of course, Max stopped at the end of that first lap and then came out behind Oscar and then obviously closed him down and converted the win. A very strong drive again by Oscar Piastri today.
“We took the start and we had confidence that we should have good pace, but of course you never know and I think Max commented that you could see that Oscar used the tyres quite hard quite early on and then that made it easier for him to convert the win.”