Charles Leclerc insisted he had “nowhere to go” after being booed by Mexican fans at the end of Sunday’s Mexico City Grand Prix.
Leclerc, who finished third, was jeered by Mexican fans in the stadium section after the race won by Max Verstappen. It also later emerged a fan was banned for life after attacking two Ferrari supporters in the Soro Fol stadium section.
But while Verstappen was far enough ahead to take first place, Perez on the outside turned in too early and clipped the front of Leclerc’s car.
It left Perez spinning off the track and subsequent damage to the floor and sidepod of his Red Bull meant he despairingly had to retire from his home race.
“A lot of booing!” said a surprised Leclerc, after his tough reception.
“Guys, honestly I had nowhere to go! Unfortunately, I touched Checo, I had nowhere to go.
“It ended the race of Checo. It’s life, I’m disappointed to end the race of Checo, I honestly had nowhere to go!”
Perez, to his credit in the media pen afterwards, did not blame the Monegasque driver for the incident.
“I had a tremendous start, the gap was there,” said Perez.
“I had the chance to take the lead, I went for it - I wasn’t expecting Charles to be in the middle and to brake that late. There was simply no room for three cars, it was a racing incident.
“Especially [being] at your home grand prix and two times on the podium, I wanted to give it all – and totally went for it. It’s really sad but I’m extremely proud of myself and the team. We had the best start of the year, we just went for it.
“Our pace is there, we knew what was wrong. The results will come, I’m not concerned about it - I’m more sad with the end result.”