Sergio Perez’s style of driving was once again brought into question in the Monaco Grand Prix with the McLaren driver attempting a series of aggressive and late-braking overtaking moves, including one on Kimi Raikkonen which effectively ended his own race and damaged the Lotus driver’s title ambitions.
The Mexican, 23, tried to pass Raikkonen, 33, up the inside of the Nouvelle Chicane for fifth, but both ended up cutting the corner. Later in the race, Perez tried a similar move but this time the pair collided with Perez hitting the barriers and Raikkonen suffering a puncture.
Perez later retired while Raikkonen battled back from 13th on the penultimate lap to rescue 10th and one world championship point. The incident put a big dent in Raikkonen’s championship hopes as the Finn saw the deficit to leader Sebastian Vettel, who finished second, rise from four points to 21.
When asked if drivers should talk to Perez about his style, Raikkonen said: “That won’t help. Maybe someone should punch him in the face. It was a really disappointing day. Because of one stupid move from Sergio we’ve lost a lot of points to Sebastian in the championship and you can’t afford to lose ground like that.
“He hit me from behind and that’s about all there is to it. If he thinks it’s my fault that he came into the corner too fast then he obviously has no idea what he’s talking about.
“It’s not the first time he’s hit someone in the race; he seems to expect people to be always looking at what he might do, then move over or go straight on if he comes into the corner too quick and isn’t going to make it without running into someone.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Perez had put a bold move on McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, who finished sixth, at the same corner with the Briton saying the Mexican “made a good move when he overtook me, so fair play to him”.
Perez followed that up with a pass on Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, again at the same chicane, with the Spaniard cutting the corner to avoid contact and later being asked by the FIA to concede the position as a result of not making the corner.
Despite the criticism from Raikkonen, Perez insisted he was not to blame for the collision with the 2007 world champion. “If someone could have avoided the accident then it was Kimi and not myself,” said Perez. “It was risky, but there was nothing I could do to avoid the crash.
“I overtook Fernando and Jenson in the same place, so at the end of the day you have to give some space. If you look at the accident, I hit the wall on entry of the corner, so Kimi gave me no room at all and there was nothing I could do to avoid it.”
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier didn’t see it the same way, adding that this was not the first time Perez has been involved in a tangle this season, in reference to when the Mexican banged wheels with team-mate Button in Bahrain.
“He tried it once and if you look at the video he was attempting very, very late braking and misunderstanding the braking line of Kimi. I think that was a little bit too much,” said Boullier.
“He nearly crashed with his team-mate in Bahrain, here there was also a little bit of action. It looks like he’s trying to often to be too aggressive and attempt something which is most of the time impossible to do.”
Alonso also criticised Perez, who stopped out on track at the final corner when his brakes failed, saying: “Perez, he has the car parked there in the Rascasse and that is the only comment I can say. He was lucky this year with two or three incidents. In Bahrain, he nearly had contact with Jenson, and with me I was off the track to avoid a contact.
“Here I cut the chicane to avoid a contact again. Kimi was not lucky because he didn’t avoid the contact and at the end Perez retired. Only McLaren have to be happy with him, the others we just need to do our work.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh refused to criticise his driver. “With Checo, we want him to go out there, be fearless, and learn sometimes you have to play a bit of a percentage game,” he said. “But overall you need someone who is committed, just as he was, so I’m happy with the way he is going.
“You can look at that incident and say Kimi didn’t give space, but I’m not overly-criticising Kimi either. To overtake here takes a bit of a risk, and Sergio did a lot of over-taking, was passionate. If these other drivers are getting upset, that’s probably a good sign.”