Sergio Perez has revealed his ‘surprise’ and ‘disappointment’ with Mercedes rival George Russell after a collision between the pair on the opening lap that led to the Red Bull driver retiring from the Austrian Grand Prix.
Perez had his Red Bull car’s nose ahead of the Mercedes on the outside of turn four and felt he had given his rival enough room.
The Mexican driver, however, was forced wide and sent spinning into the gravel, with a large hole pierced in the RB18's sidepod that ended his race after 24 laps.
Russell was handed a five-second penalty as punishment but went on to finish fourth, leaving a disappointed Perez to declare: “I was clearly ahead and it was up to George to really control his car, which he clearly couldn’t.
“We ended up making contact, there was nothing else I could have done. I gave him enough room, I was already quite close to the gravel to make sure he had enough room for both of us to make the corner.”
Asked if he was happy Russell played by the rules, which state that if a driver is ahead the other needs to leave space, he added: “It was clear but for the standards of George’s level I am very surprised at that manoeuvre.
“It was a very disappointing result for our team because clearly there were a lot of opportunities. We had too much damage to be able to progress in the race.”
Perez – Zero points tough to take
Perez started the weekend in second place behind Max Verstappen in the title battle but his zero score proved costly as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc jumped ahead with victory as Perez’s Dutch team-mate claimed 18 points for second.
Perez’s second retirement in three races has left him 57 points adrift of Verstappen and 19 points behind Leclerc.
“It’s a big shame," he added. "These zeroes are very painful, especially when you are in the mix for the championship.
“But this is just racing. It wasn’t an optimum race or an optimum weekend. (There is) a lot to analyse from our side to try to come back stronger.”