Sergio Pérez went on a flying final qualifying lap on Saturday behind Charles Leclerc, but as he rounded the Portier, the Red Bull driver spun, losing the rear as he collided backwards into the barriers.
And just moments later, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz hit Pérez’s right-front wheel, unable to stop in time for the yellow flags. The qualifier for the Monaco Grand Prix was then suspended by red flags, sealing hometown star Charles Leclerc’s pole position for what is arguably considered the crown jewel of Formula One.
Pérez ended up being sent to the medical center because his car’s G-sensor registered a hard enough impact that required him to be checked. What was odd, though, is that the collision happened at a slow point on the Monaco track, which is already one of the slowest on the calendar.
“There was a technical issue, apparently, because the G I got was something like 20 G,” the Red Bull driver said in the post-qualifying press conference, “but it’s quite a low-speed section and there are TecPros there.”
So what caused Pérez to lose the rear of his car after dominating throughout Saturday?
The Mexican driver said it was actually cool tires.
“I think the strategy with the tire, especially that final set—it wasn’t up to temperature, and it was just too peaky,” Pérez said. “I nearly lost it already into Turn 1. In hindsight, I think we didn’t get it right today.”
He later added, “Turn 8 has been a difficult one for me throughout the qualifying section. So I was trying to anticipate and get quite early on throttle. But as soon as I touched the throttle, I could feel like the rear tire was not gripping in. And I was playing with it a bit, until I lost it. ... I was actually surprised that Carlos hit me at the time. And it was just a shame, what happened. And I feel sorry for Carlos, and for the rest of the guys. But, you know, this is Monaco.”
Pérez said the damage “looked bad from the rear” and Sainz’s hit “made it worse.” However, he does think the car will be prepared for when lights go out on Sunday.
Sainz walked the media through what he saw approaching Portier.
“Coming obviously from a blind corner that is Turn 7, you do Turn 7, you go full throttle, and as I was entering Turn 7 on my left hand side, I see a yellow flag coming out. And immediately as I see a yellow flag, I realize that the car in front of me had crashed. You don’t see where he has crashed, so you enter the corner without knowing where he’s going to be. So I just hit the brakes. I tried to do the corner radius as tight as possible.
“And just as I was going to manage to avoid him, I hit the brake a bit harder and managed to clip his back with the back of the car. It would have been a pretty good save if I would have saved it, but because there was basically no time to save it, but it’s what happens in Monaco.”
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