Formula 1 Racing

Why Perez blamed ‘idiot’ Ocon after lapping 1.3s off Verstappen · RaceFans

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Red Bull Ring, 2024

Sergio Perez pointed the finger at Esteban Ocon after qualifying 1.3 seconds slower than his team mate for tomorrow’s sprint race.

Max Verstappen secured pole position for Saturday morning’s sprint race, while Perez only qualified in seventh.

Perez’s sole flying lap in SQ3 was heavily compromised as he ran almost immediately behind Ocon. The Red Bull driver had to push to reach the timing line before the chequered flag, meaning he was far closer to the Alpine driver than he would otherwise want to be.

Red Bull released Perez from his garage with 2’45 remaining on the clock, just a second or two after Verstappen had been released. Perez joined the queue in the pit lane between the Alpines of Ocon and Pierre Gasly behind. By the time Perez left the pit lane exit line, there was exactly one-and-a-half minutes remaining.

“Okay, we might need a slightly faster out-lap here,” Perez was told by race engineer Hugh Bird as he left the pit lane. “Make sure we hold track position form Gasly.

As Perez approached turn three on his out-lap, Bird warned him “we are a bit tight here” when it came to whether he would reach the timing line before the clock expired.

“We’re currently five seconds unsafe,” Perez was told exiting turn three. As he pressed on and gained time Bird reported he was “three-and-a-half seconds unsafe” as he approached turn six. When he approached the penultimate corner of turn nine having caught Ocon, Perez was told “you’re on the bubble here, you can’t back out.”

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Perez eventually crossed the line with three seconds remaining. He was almost exactly one second away from the Alpine ahead, which compromised his timed lap and resulted in him posting a time over a second slower than his team mate’s.

“I don’t know what Ocon was doing,” Bird told Perez after his driver crossed the line. “I don’t know why Ocon left 14 seconds [to Verstappen].”

“This guy is such an idiot,” Perez replied.

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Team principal Christian Horner offered sympathy to his driver. “That was a good effort considering your track position, mate,” Horner said. “So that was alright. I don’t know why Ocon backed you into his team mate…”

As Ocon did not exceed the maximum lap time on his out-lap, he had committed no foul in the eyes of…

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