Sergio Perez says it was “incredible” how Red Bull banded together to repair his car at Spa, both his and Max Verstappen’s mechanics doing the job.
Perez earned the ire of Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko when he crashed his RB16B on the way to the grid for the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.
But with the rain still chucking down, the Mexican driver was handed a get-out-of-jail-free card as the start was delayed by more than two hours with F1 race director Michael Masi clearing him to take the start.
That gave his mechanics, along with Verstappen’s, the time needed to repair the RB16B which the team had said had suffered “extreme” damage.
“The lap to grid was my mistake, the conditions and visibility were extremely poor and I just went on the kerb and lost it,” Perez stated.
“I always knew there was a small chance we could get the car back out and the team was pushing hard, really showing the spirit of Red Bull, which was nice to see.
“My team did what they do best and they repaired the car so quickly it was incredible.”
Unfortunately with the grand prix nothing more than a two-lap procession behind the Safety Car, Perez, who had to start at the back of the field, was classified P20.
“I really wanted to repay them for their hard work during the race but that didn’t happen,” he added. “Luckily we are racing again in a few days.”
Ultimately, however, Perez’s mistake cost him his P7 grid slot, with the Red Bull driver – who, it was announced at the start of the weekend, will remain with the team in 2022 – starting from the pit lane before ultimately being classified P19 after the race was red flagged following two laps behind the Safety Car, costing him what would have been three points – half those usually awarded for a seventh-place finish.
“The conditions were extremely hard,” explained Perez of the crash, “and with these wet tyres, things are very, very tricky, very slippery. It was my mistake, but it could well have happened to anyone out there.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner applauded the team’s efforts to repair Perez’s car.
“Following Checo’s unfortunate trip into the barrier on the initial out lap it was incredible to see our mechanics in action under pressure once again, fixing his car in the time they did, giving him every opportunity to race should we have been able to get out from behind the Safety Car,” he said.
“It was a massive job as both sides of the suspension and the steering rack were damaged but it was very rewarding to see the teamwork with both sides of the garage working together to get it fixed.”
Red Bull walked away from Spa with an additional 12.5 points with pole-sitter Verstappen awarded half points for his race win.