Perez: No reason to apologize to Button

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Sergio Perez has spoken out to correct reports about him apologizing to teammate Jenson Button for his actions during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The two McLaren drivers went head-to-head on track during the race last weekend, with Perez pressurizing Button for the position. When attempting an overtake, Perez made contact with his teammate and lost a front wing endplate, risking Button a puncture. Eventually, Perez forced his way past and went on to finish P6 whilst Button picked up a solitary point for 10th.

After the race, team principal Martin Whitmarsh sat down with both drivers to talk about the incident as it risked the team result. Although Perez admits he apologized to the team, he sees no reason why he should have said sorry to his teammate.

“I didn’t apologize to him because I didn’t think it was necessary,” Perez explained to ESPNF1.

“We owed an apology to the team and that’s what we talked about. It was said in various publications that I apologized to Jenson, but it wasn’t like that.”

Despite this refusal, Perez still believes that his relationship with Button is good.

“We apologized to the team because we risked a lot and we were both very aggressive, but no, at no moment did I apologize and my relationship with Jenson is still okay.”

Morals aside, Perez’s decision to challenge Button paid dividends at the end of the race. He managed to overtake Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber late on to finish P6, and he would probably have failed to challenge them had McLaren ordered him to hold position. These comments prove that Perez is unwilling to play ‘second fiddle’ to Button in the team as the Mexican driver looks to establish himself during his third season.

F1 2017 driver review: Sergio Perez

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Sergio Perez

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 11
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Spain)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 100
Championship Position: 7th

While failing to hit the podium as he did in both 2015 and 2016, Sergio Perez once again finished the year as Formula 1’s leading midfield team driver, but faced a greater fight from within Force India in the shape of Esteban Ocon.

Perez has long been knocking on the door of F1’s top teams should an opportunity come up, and 2017 saw him continue his solid if unspectacular form. The dominance of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari meant any finish higher than seventh was impressive, something he managed to do on five occasions.

But there were some missed opportunities along the way, most significantly in Baku. Force India had been quick all weekend, with Perez charging to sixth on the grid, and when drama struck at the front, he and teammate Ocon were eyeing a podium finish as a minimum.

Contact between the two forced Perez to retire and prompted Ocon to pit for repairs, leaving the team without the top-three finish it targeted heading into the season. With Lance Stroll taking P3 for Williams and Daniel Ricciardo winning the race, a maiden victory for Force India was not out of the realm of imagination.

Perez and Ocon came to blows on a number of occasions, with the final straw coming in Spa when they twice touched on-track, prompting Force India to introduce team orders. Perez finished the year 13 points clear of Ocon in the final standings, meeting his own pre-season target of 100 points, yet the Frenchman had arguably made the bigger impression at Force India through his first full season in F1.

Force India remains the top underdog in F1 with Perez spearheading its charge, but it is difficult to see either taking the final step to becoming true contenders at the front of the field anytime soon, as solid as their displays have been.

Season High: P4 in Spain after retirements for the ‘big three’.

Season Low: Losing a sure-fire podium, if not a win, in Baku after contact with Ocon.