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Leclerc defends himself to hostile Mexico F1 crowd over first corner incident with Perez

Charles Leclerc faced booing and jeering in his post-race interview with Jenson Button, after securing P3 at the Mexico City Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc found himself on the wrong side of the spectators at the Mexico City Grand Prix after his first-lap crash with Sergio Perez ended the latter’s home race.

Leclerc F1 Mexico Perez
Charles Leclerc couldn’t convert his pole position in Mexico into a win, but he did manage to secure a podium finish. (Image Credit: @ScuderiaFerrari on X)

Heading into the first corner of the grand prix, Perez – who started P5 – found himself alongside polesitter Leclerc and teammate Max Verstappen.

Occupying the outside line, Perez attempted to swoop around the other two but sandwiched the Ferrari driver in the process.

The resulting contact forced him out of the race, whilst damaging the Monegasque driver’s front wing end plate. The Stewards judged the coming together to be a racing incident.

Leclerc had to spend the opening few laps with the end plate hanging off. It did eventually come free from the front wing without the team being forced to replace the entire section.

Unwelcome reception

Ultimately, the Ferrari driver managed to bring the number 16 car home in P3, but in his post-race interview on Sky Sports F1, he was subjected to booing and jeering from the dissatisfied home fans.

Despite the intimidating atmosphere, the 26-year-old stood his ground, calmly explaining the incident from his perspective.

“A lot of booing, a lot of booing,” he remarked.

“Guys, I mean, honestly, I had nowhere to go. So, I was a bit in between the two Red Bulls and unfortunately, I touched Checo [Perez], but I had nowhere to go. So, it’s life. It damaged my car and unfortunately, it ended the race of Checo.

“But yeah, on our end, we maximised our race. So, it’s life – of course, I’m disappointed to end the race of Checo like that, but I really didn’t do it on purpose, and I had nowhere to go.”

After addressing the crowd directly, he went on to appraise the rest of his race, which saw him hold on to a podium, which he was unable to do – disqualification aside – last time out in Austin, where he also started from pole.

During the red flag period following Kevin Magnussen’s retirement, Leclerc voiced his concern about a standing restart with much of the field on the less grippy hard tyres.

Despite initially holding onto his then-P2 position, he soon succumbed to the pressure behind:

“We struggled a little bit with the hard [tyre] at the restart – Lewis [Hamilton] was really quick on the medium [compound], then they [Mercedes] managed to have a really good degradation. So yeah, they were just better today and it’s fine.”

Featured Image Credit: @ScuderiaFerrari on X

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