Not that it would have mattered, but Red Bull‘s Sergio Perez effectively handed teammate Max Verstappen his third drivers’ championship, after crashing out of the 2023 Qatar GP Sprint Race during the closing stages on Saturday.
The late retirement for the Mexican driver came after the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and Haas‘ Nico Hulkenberg went wheel to wheel, while Perez attempted to creep round the outside of both drivers, causing a collision and a trio of retirements.
“It was a low grip race, but we were covering and we were making good progress,” Perez told the media after the race. “But unfortunately as I was making more progress, they [Ocon and Hulkenberg] had this contact and I paid the price.
“Yeah, massive damage. It’s been a very frustrating day. But tomorrow, it’s a new opportunity and we will give our best.”
Perez praises Verstappen
Even before the Sprint Race was over, Perez‘s late retirement gave the title to Verstappen, who eventually finished second to Oscar Piastri, and cement himself as a three-time F1 world champion.
“He deserves all of the success that he’s had. I’m very happy for him and for the team,” Perez concluded.
With five races on the 2023 calendar still left to go, Red Bull can now fully concentrate on next season knowing that they have wrapped up both F1 championships with relative ease.