Perez crashes on first lap of practice in Hungary

Red Bull's Sergio Perez crashes into the barrier during Hungarian GP first practice
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has failed to qualify in the top 10 for five races in a row

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez crashed on his very first lap of practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mexican put his outside wheels on the grass when turning into the Turn Five hairpin and spun into the wall.

Perez’s error prevented the other drivers from getting any dry running as rain started to fall during the red-flag period called to recover the damaged Red Bull.

Mercedes’ George Russell was fastest with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in second.

Fernando Alonso had been fastest in the Aston Martin before pitting a few minutes before the end of the session with the track conditions still improving.

Only 11 drivers set lap times, and championship leader Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton were not among them.

Perez’s crash has increased the pressure on him after a difficult run in which he has failed to qualify in the top 10 for five consecutive races.

His remarks over the radio immediately after the crash made it clear that he understood the potential seriousness of the error.

“I can’t believe this,” Perez said.

Team principal Christian Horner said: “He just misjudged it. It was just a mistake. You could hear the frustration in his voice.”

Perez’s early-season ambition of challenging team-mate Verstappen for the championship has collapsed as his season has imploded following a series of errors.

At the same time, former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who won seven races for the team from 2014-18, has returned to the grid as a replacement at their second team Alpha Tauri for Nyck de Vries, who was fired last week.

Ricciardo has said his dream is to go well enough in the Alpha Tauri to again earn a seat at Red Bull.

Perez, who has a Red Bull contract for 2024, said on Thursday that Ricciardo’s return “doesn’t change anything” for him, insisting that his future was “in my hands”.

Horner has said that he believed Perez’s problem was that he had been putting too much pressure on himself, and added after the British Grand Prix that Perez “just needs a clean weekend”.

That hope is already forlorn in Hungary, although it may well turn out that Perez is fortunate in that the weather prevented anyone else learning about their cars in dry conditions so he will not be as behind as he would have been had the session not been hit by rain.

A number of drivers did go out later in the session to try their cars on intermediate tyres in the wet conditions, and Carlos Sainz caused a second red flag when he spun coming out of Turn Three.

He made light contact with the wall with the rear of his car and damaged his front wing but was unable to restart himself because he was beached on the kerb. The incident damaged Sainz’s front wing.

Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was another driver to fall foul of the conditions, also damaging a front wing with a spin.

Listen on Sounds banner

  • From secretive street artist to international icon: The Banksy Story charts the rise of this anonymous household name
  • Is hydrogen the solution to our energy needs? The Inquiry explores the potential of replacing our current fossil fuel usage with hydrogen

Listen on Sounds footer

You might also like...