A Red Bull fan assaulted Ferrari supporters in the grandstands of the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix, as Sergio Perez‘s race was ended early due to contact with Charles Leclerc.
A video posted online showed a man in a Red Bull t-shirt swarm up the stands and land multiple punches on a pair of Ferrari fans before he was eventually pulled off his attack by another supporter.
It’s not fully clear if the scenes were pre-race or in the red flag period following Kevin Magnussen‘s heavy crash, and Leclerc was booed by the home crowd after taking third place at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
“A lot of booing, a lot of booing,” Leclerc said in his post-race interview. “Guys, honestly, I had nowhere to go. I was in between the two Red Bulls and unfortunately I touched Checo, but I had nowhere to go.
“It’s life, he damaged my car and unfortunately it ended the race of Checo. Of course, I’m disappointed to end the race of Checo like that, but I really didn’t do it on purpose and I had nowhere to go.”
Why were Mexican fans unhappy?
Perez‘s race didn’t get past the first corner in front of his home fans, Max Verstappen had managed a jet-propelled start and launched to the inside of Leclerc while the Mexican went to the left of the Ferrari and attempted to swing into the lead on the racing line.
However, Perez turned in too early and sent himself briefly airborne off Leclerc‘s SF-23 before smashing back down to earth carrying heavy damage.
Red Bull mechanics tried desperately to patch up his RB19 but abandoned the effort after a few laps, with Perez seemingly on the verge of tears as he climbed out of his car before giving an emotional wave to his fans from the pit wall
Leclerc had no fault in the incident squeezed between both Red Bulls, and Perez admitted he saw it as a ‘total racing incident’, while adding he didn’t regret attempting the move.
A Perez victory would’ve been the first time a Mexican‘s won his home grand prix, but instead his gap to third-placed Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship has been slashed in half.
With intense debate around whether Perez has a future at Red Bull or even in Formula 1, it was the worst possible time to make such a blunder as Verstappen scorched to yet another record-breaking win.
Red Bull have never had a one-two in the drivers’ championship but that has looked set to change for virtually the whole of 2023 given the historically unparalleled dominance of the RB19.
Were Perez to lose that position it’d be a major black mark on his Red Bull record, while potential replacement Daniel Ricciardo had a brilliant race in Mexico City, finishing seventh to record AlphaTauri‘s best result of the season.
The fan who started the fight was expelled from the circuit and banned for life by Formula 1.