Sergio Perez apologized to his Force India team for the contact with Esteban Ocon that saw his teammate retire on the opening lap of the Singapore Grand Prix.
Ocon was attempting to pass Perez around the outside of Turn 3 when the pair touched on the exit of the corner, resulting in Ocon crashing into the wall. Perez later struggled to pass Sergey Sirotkin and also hit the Williams as his chance of points disappeared, and he insists he was unaware of where his teammate was at the start.
“It was a very unfortunate incident, one of those that is very hard to avoid,” Perez said. “As I was picking up the power I felt a clip from one car, not even realizing that was Esteban and then, as I get a message from the team, I was very sorry for that.
“Very hard day for us — and then with the strategy then we pit, we were having a tremendous first stint, opening up the big gap to the cars behind, but then we were stuck in traffic and it was very hard to get by Sirotkin. Then there was the contact with him.
“I think we probably paid the price of a very strong qualifying. A good first stint. Obviously after the race it’s always easier to analyze and pick out the right strategy but probably today we got the strategy a bit wrong.
“I don’t think I have much to say (to Esteban), I am just very sorry for the day the team had in general. I wish I could have seen Esteban there or have done something different there. A tough day for us, especially after such a good day yesterday, but this is racing. Hopefully in the next couple of races we can improve and get on with some better points.”
Perez had qualified in seventh place but was forced to start on the hypersoft compound that was suffering high levels of degradation. He believes Force India also made an error in pitting as early as it did because it thought he would be able to overtake other cars more easily.
Accepting his drive-through penalty for colliding with Sirotkin, Perez admits he was too aggressive trying to stop the Williams coming back at him.
“I knew that my race was just going out of my hands. I think we probably underestimated [Williams] because they were not that slow and it was so hard to overtake. I was just burning my brakes, my engine, my tires so it was a massive frustration. I tried my best, then as I was fighting the position with Sirotkin there was a little bit of contact; that was a big shame.
“It was hard racing — he was defending his position very hard, moving a lot under braking and locking up a lot under braking. Then as I was going through him I tried to close the door but I think he was too close there. In the end, not ideal. I don’t think it would have changed the result but it’s a shame we didn’t score any points.”