David Coulthard believes his former team Red Bull will be far from impressed with Sergio Perez after his Abu Dhabi GP time penalty opened the door for Mercedes to take P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull long since had the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles respectively in the bag, but the F1 2023 season-ending Abu Dhabi GP did feature an intriguing battle behind as Mercedes and Ferrari tussled for runner-up status.
And with the advantage going back and forth throughout the race, it was ultimately Mercedes who got the job done, with a huge helping hand from Red Bull driver Perez.
Sergio Perez error will “irk” Red Bull
As Perez went to battle with McLaren’s Lando Norris in his recovery mission to a potential podium finish, the duo collided at Turn 6, Norris forced to take to the run-off after the whack from Perez’s RB19.
Perez was given a five-second time penalty by the stewards as a result, meaning that while he finished P2 on the road, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc letting him through in hope Perez could get more than five seconds ahead of Russell, ultimately Perez was consigned to P4, as Russell returned to the podium.
And with that, Mercedes secured P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.
“It was clumsy,” said Coulthard as he analysed the Perez-Norris collision for Channel 4.
“Checo had the move done, on board, he’s not gone super aggressive on the braking. Watch the steering, he turns in, turns away, and that then just creates that little bit of push.”
Asked what exactly Perez was trying to do, Coulthard replied: “Honestly, I can’t answer that because it doesn’t make any sense. That was clumsy and definitely his fault.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has confirmed a clean slate for the W15 as the team introduce a fresh concept, with the aim of finally returning to the title fight against Red Bull in F1 2024.
And with Coulthard tipping Mercedes to be Red Bull’s biggest future rival, he suspects Perez handing them P2 will “irk” Red Bull.
“That five-second penalty I guess will irk Red Bull,” Coulthard suggested, “because Mercedes then get second in the Constructors’ and that’s probably their biggest rival in terms of future competition.”
Ferrari will look to make good use of this particular defeat, as their P3 finish will allow them more windtunnel testing time than Mercedes and Red Bull.