Under-fire Sergio Perez replacement ‘justified’ after Daniel Ricciardo impact in Mexico

Thomas Maher
Sergio Perez slides off track after contact with Charles Leclerc.

The future of Sergio Perez at Red Bull has been called into debate following a poor Mexican Grand Prix.

The temptation for Red Bull to swap Daniel Ricciardo in for the struggling Sergio Perez might make more sense following the Mexican Grand Prix.

After a string of poor showings in the second half of the season, Perez’s form continued to disappoint at his home race in Mexico as he triggered a first-corner clash of his own making as he attempted to sweep in across Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen to try taking the lead.

Perez had had a great start from the grid, using the slipstream to put himself into a great position to jockey for a heroic first-corner move, only for it all to come to naught – the incident resulted in his retirement, much to the disappointment of his home fans.

Richard Bradley: Sergio Perez wasn’t going to pass Max Verstappen without Lap 1 heroics

Appearing on the On Track GP podcast, 2015 Le Mans LMP2 winner Richard Bradley said he could understand the temptation of Perez to try being a hero on the opening lap as it was unlikely that he would be able to get ahead of dominant teammate Max Verstappen during the race otherwise.

Asked whether the start represented his best chance of the race to fight for a hugely important home race victory, Bradley laughed.

“Probably the only chance for the rest of the year, probably, let’s be honest about it!” he said.

“The thing is with Mexico, what makes it hard – and I raced there in 2016 – is that it’s over a kilometre from the start line to the first corner. So you don’t just have the usual ‘OK, get the start and then brake for the first corner’ – you get the slipstream effect.

“So you always get tempted to end up going three wide into there. Let’s be honest, he wasn’t going to catch Max unless he overtook him there.

“But he was quite right in what he said that he did expect Leclerc to brake a bit earlier, having been in the middle.

“But, then again, Charles is never one to give up in a battle. So it’s 100% on him. I do feel a bit sorry for him, but that’s racing, right? At the end of the day, if he wanted to be in the lead, he should have qualified better.”

With Perez’s lead over Lewis Hamilton shrinking to 20 points as a result of his DNF and Hamilton’s second-place finish, Bradley suspects it’s the Mercedes man who will come out on top in the championship standings by the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.

“Let’s be honest, with the form that Lewis is in at the minute, you could see him quite easily beating Perez in the final races,” he said.

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Daniel Ricciardo points show ‘old Danny Ric’ is back

In the AlphaTauri, Daniel Ricciardo’s form was eye-opening throughout the Mexican Grand Prix weekend. Outqualifying Perez with fourth place on Saturday, the Australian scored seventh place on Sunday to elevate AlphaTauri to eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship – a potentially very lucrative position compared to the last-place position they had previously occupied.

Ricciardo’s contribution to the Red Bull efforts won’t go unnoticed, according to Bradley.

“We all know Perez is bringing a fair amount of money,” he said.

“But I highly doubt it’s more than more than $20 million. So, all of a sudden, Danny Ricciardo has recovered the price difference for the Red Bull group, as a whole, that Perez will be able to bring. So, all of a sudden, maybe that justifies having him.

“He has his own marketing side and everything. OK, it’s not quite as much as Perez-mania, but we see it when he goes to Australia. The other thing that was cool about Ricciardo this weekend was, for the first time since he came back, I think we started to see the old Danny Ric.

“Every time you saw him, he was just smiling all the time. You can always see in his body language whether he’s enjoying himself, and he looked like he was like, ‘OK, I found my mojo again, now I’m feeling good’.”

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