Sergio Perez’s journey at the Japanese Grand Prix has been a rollercoaster of twists, turns and dramatic ups and downs, putting it mildly. The Red Bull driver’s race unfolded in a series of unfortunate events that led to a retirement, a surprise return and another retirement.
TJ13 attempts to dissect the chaotic sequence of events that defined Perez’s day in Suzuka.
Nightmarish start & early pit stop
The race began on a sour note for Perez when he was involved in a tangle with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap. The collision with the seven-time world champion caused damage to Perez’s car, particularly to the front wing. This unexpected setback forced Perez into an unscheduled pit stop to replace the damaged wing.
Adding insult to injury: The time penalty
As if the front wing damage wasn’t enough, Perez’s woes were compounded when he received a five-second time penalty for a Safety Car infringement as he entered the pit lane. This penalty only added to his difficulties and increased the uphill battle he was facing to salvage any points from the race.
Desperate climb through the field
With his Red Bull machine repaired, Perez embarked on a mission to claw his way back through the field. However, his determination to recover was hampered by another unfortunate incident. Perez found himself in a tight situation with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, resulting in a late lunge and collision. This sent Magnussen into a spin at Turn 9, causing further damage to Perez’s car.
Second trip to the pits
The collision with Magnussen necessitated another pit stop for Perez, this time to replace his damaged nose. The Mexican driver was clearly struggling with a car that “didn’t feel right”. It was becoming clear that the day was spiralling out of control for the Red Bull team and their driver.
Double retirement drama
Amidst Perez’s increasing struggles, his radio messages revealed growing frustration. On lap 15, Perez voiced his discontent, stating that his car didn’t feel right. Then came the unexpected instruction from his team: “retire the car”.
It seemed an anticlimactic end to a challenging race.
But the story took a fascinating turn. Red Bull decided to send Perez back into the race on lap 40, seemingly for the sole purpose of serving his five-second penalty. A very embarrassing situation for the Mexican as his team mate was dominating the race in first position.
The decision raised eyebrows and suggested a strategic move to ensure the penalty didn’t carry over to the next race in Qatar.
Perez dutifully served his penalty on the following lap, but was again abruptly ordered to retire on lap 43. This unexpected second retirement was the final twist in an eventful Japanese Grand Prix for Sergio Perez.
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