Lewis Hamilton teases Sergio Perez after non-answer on Max Verstappen reprimands

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez, Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, smiling. Japan, September 2023.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, smiling in a press conference.

Lewis Hamilton decided to have a bit of fun with Sergio Perez after he refused to be drawn on whether he agreed with Max Verstappen only being reprimanded for his Singapore impeding incidents.

Verstappen was summoned by the stewards after Singapore Grand Prix qualifying over three instances of impeding, including what appeared to be a slam dunk with Yuki Tsunado as well as one in the pit lane where the Red Bull driver remained stationary for several seconds at the exit as the light went green.

The stewards only saw fit to hand out a pair of reprimands plus a €5000 fine for Red Bull, despite a precedent seemingly having been set earlier in the season of three-place grid penalties in response to impeding incidents.

Lewis Hamilton teases Sergio Perez who has “nothing to say”

During the pre-Japanese Grand Prix press conference, several drivers were asked for their take on the Verstappen verdicts, and whether they were concerned over the consistency of decision making from the stewards.

As Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, it was perhaps not a great surprise that Perez had “nothing to say”, that drawing a smile out of Hamilton, who joked to Perez: “Are you sure? You always have an opinion on things!”

“Not on this one, I pass it to you,” said Perez in reply to the Mercedes driver.

“Are you allowed to park at the end of the pit lane on the way out?” Hamilton asked in response, with Perez replying: “Not wait for that long, but it’s something that probably in the future we’re allowed now.”

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At this point Hamilton decided to stop teasing the Red Bull driver, explaining that he was not in the best position to make a judgement on Verstappen’s pit-lane impeding incident, but said drivers continue in discussions with the FIA over how such incidents are dealt with, believing there is a lack of consistency.

“I didn’t really see them,” said Hamilton of the Verstappen impeding cases. “I obviously was in the pit lane when everyone stopped and I couldn’t see what was happening up ahead.

“And we always work as close as we can with the FIA to have consistency and there is some variation, so we have to continue to work on it for sure.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc meanwhile did express surprise that the pit-lane incident only resulted in a reprimand for Verstappen.

“Yeah, I was a bit surprised,” he said. “Especially the one in the pit lane, because that could open quite bad situations in the future.

“But again, as we’ve said, it’s always an open discussion with the FIA. trying to explain to them what our point of view is and improve and I’m sure we’ll have that discussion tomorrow evening [in the drivers’ briefing].”

Verstappen and Perez will be out to return Red Bull to their dominant ways at Suzuka, having hit an unexpected bump in the road in Singapore as Verstappen’s run of consecutive wins came to an end at 10, and 15 for Red Bull.

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