Perez blames Hamilton for Belgian GP Sprint incident

Hamilton was given a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Perez during the Belgian GP Sprint

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Sergio Perez has had his say on the incident between himself and Lewis Hamilton that caused him to retire from the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix Sprint race.

The Mexican was battling over fourth place with Hamilton when the Brit attempted a move up the inside of Turn 15.

On the damp Spa-Francrochamps circuit, the Mercedes drifted away from the apex and made contact with the Red Bull, which subsequently affected the floor and blew a hole in the sidepod.

While many saw it as a racing incident, the stewards assessed Hamilton a five-second penalty, which demoted him from fourth to seventh.

After the shortened 11-lap Sprint, Perez appeared to agree with the stewards that the manoeuvre was worthy of punishment.

Explaining the incident, Perez said: “It was massive damage from the contact with Lewis.

“He just took the whole right-hand side of the car, he damaged the floor and the sidepod, so that was game over. It was too much.

“Basically he just ran out of grip and could not stop his car and just went into the side of me.

“He [Hamilton] was just in a hurry to recover, everyone was in a hurry to recover because it’s a very short race so you have to take those risks, but yeah, not nice to get my race ruined by him.”

All eyes on Sunday’s GP

While it ended in disaster, the Sprint race started positively for Perez.

After qualifying eighth, he benefitted from pitting onto inters when the race finally got underway after a weather delay and four formation laps.

With Pierre Gasly in third, that put him in line for a podium before Fernando Alonso‘s crash brought out the safety car.

“It was looking great,” Perez added. “The team did a great strategy to recover.

“We were about to get Gasly just before the safety car came out. So it was looking great but just unfortunate today.”

He will, however, have a chance to make amends tomorrow.

Max Verstappen‘s five-place grid penalty means Perez will line up first for the all-important Grand Prix, which is set to be the first full dry session of the weekend.

It would give him a welcome boost going into the summer break.”

“Tomorrow we will know about the car and where we’re really at so looking forward to that and hopefully we can recover the points we lost today.”

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