Brawn thinks Perez’s award was undeserved

Jon Wilde
Sergio Perez locks up behind Nikita Mazepin during the Dutch GP. Zandvoort September 2021.

Sergio Perez locks up the tyres on his Red Bull behind Nikita Mazepin during the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2021.

Ross Brawn disagreed with Sergio Perez being voted Driver of the Day in the Dutch Grand Prix – because he had made a “huge mistake again”.

The Red Bull driver had an ideal opportunity to catch the eye of the fans voting in the official F1 poll because he started from the pit lane after receiving a penalty.

A blunder in qualifying at Zandvoort meant Perez was eliminated in Q1 as he found himself in a queue of traffic while trying to reach the start line for his final run, and failed to get there before the chequered flag fell.

That left the Mexican facing a P16 grid spot, but his team decided to change engine parts and get the penalty out of the way rather than at a later race where it could have proven more damaging.

Starting from the pit lane, along with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, Perez therefore had the chance to show his overtaking skills in a recovery drive and that is just what he produced, storming up the field to finish eighth.

But although the 31-year-old convinced the TV audience, Brawn was less impressed and instead preferred the credentials of Fernando Alonso – who improved three places on his grid placing to bag P6.

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“For once, I have to disagree with the fans regarding Driver of the Day as for me it was Fernando, rather than Sergio,” said Formula 1’s motorsports managing director in his regular post-race column.

“Sergio was in the pits and at the back of the field because he had a massive flat-spot – he made a huge mistake again. A grand prix is about making the fewest or no mistakes the whole weekend.

“You might say the team were at fault in Q1 but to not progress from that session with a car like that is not good enough. He’s not putting it all together at the moment. Fernando is.

“Fernando was a wily old fox on Sunday. When Esteban Ocon was on the radio saying he was faster than Fernando, his team-mate was managing his tyres as he needed to at that stage of the race.

“In my view, he ran a perfect race. To squeak that extra position at the end from Carlos [Sainz] was brilliant.”

In terms of who was at fault for Perez’s Q1 exit, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had said after qualifying that “we sent him out with enough time, but they all went backwards in the pit lane and he lost a lot [of time] on the track”.