Hungarian Grand Prix: Sergio Perez crashes on first lap of practice as Red Bull career hangs in the balance
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Sergio Perez crashed his Red Bull during his first practice lap at the Hungarian Grand Prix. It comes as tensions rise around his position in the team, after poor qualifying sessions in the last five races.
The Mexican driver, 33, drove onto the grass when turning into Turn Five hairpin of the Hungaroring, which saw him spin into the wall. The crash prevented other drivers from getting a dry run in the practice as a red-flag was called to recover the damaged Red Bull before the rain started.
At the end of the first practice session, Mercedes’ George Russell was fastest, followed by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso had held the fastest lap until he chose to pit a few minutes before the end of the session, with track conditions still improving.
Eleven drivers out of twenty were able to set a lap time during the practice session, with Championship leader Max Verstappen and Mecerdes’ Lewis Hamilton, unable to set time. Daniel Ricciardo, who made his return to Alpha Tauri this weekend, was also amongst the nine drivers who were unable to set a lap time.
Perez’s first lap crash has increased pressure on him to perform after a difficult run for the Mexican driver. Perez has failed to qualify in the top 10 for the last five consecutive races, which included a crash at Monaco.
The driver immediately got on the radio after his crash, which made it clear that he understood how serious the error could have been. Perez told the team “I can’t believe this” as Red Bull’s team principal Chrisitan Horner said: “He just misjudged it. It was just a mistake. You could hear the frustration in his voice.”
Despite his recent run of mistakes, Perez is still sitting second in the World Championship rankings with 21 points between him and Fernando Alonso in third place. The driver’s early-season ambition to challenge the current world champion and team-mate Verstappen has collapsed following a series of errors during qualifying races.
Perez’s disappointing drives come after Red Bull bosses axed Nyck de Vries from the junior team, Alpha Tauri, choosing to replace the 28-year-old Dutch driver with former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian driver, 34, has previously won seven races for Red Bull and will now drive with Alpha Tauri until the end of the season.
Christian Horner has since revealed that Ricciardo is now setting his sights on the Red Bull seat for the 2025 season. Perez, who holds a contract with Red Bull for 2024, said that Ricciardo’s return “doesn’t change anything” for him, whilst insisting that his future with the team was “in my hands”.
Horner has stood by Perez, saying that he believes that the driver has been putting too much pressure on himself. He also added that the driver “just needs a clean weekend”, although those plans have already been ruined by an early practice crash.
Weather prevented many drivers from learning about their cars in dry conditions, with many teams opting for upgrades this weekend, including Red Bull and Mercedes. A number of drivers chose to go out later in the sessions, to try driving on intermediate tyres in the wet conditions.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz caused the second red flag of the session when he spun onto the grass coming out of Turn Three and banked himself on a kerb between the grass and track. After making light contact with the wall, the rear of the Ferrari was damaged, as well as damage to his front wing, with the driver also unable to restart the car himself.
Alpha Tarui’s Yuki Tsunoda also caused damage to his car after breaking his front wing as he spun in the wet conditions.