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Damon Hill Drags ‘Desperate’ Sergio Perez Through Mud for Unfair Attack on F1 Rival That Backfired

Published 09/26/2023, 4:00 AM EDT

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Even with Red Bull on fire, it wasn’t Sergio Perez’s day at the Japanese Grand Prix. A little encounter with the Safety Car led to a time penalty, and unfortunately, he didn’t cross the finish line. And there goes Red Bull’s perfect finishing streak! Now, Perez and Lewis Hamilton are having a friendly tussle for P2 in the WDC. Lewis is sneaking up, just 33 points behind on the leaderboard.

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In the latest episode of the F1 Nation podcast, Damon Hill, alongside Tom Clarkson and Natalie Pinkham, discussed Sergio Perez’s recent blunder on the track that has the F1 community talking. What a race season this is turning out to be! Tom Clarkson, opening the discussion about Perez, opined, “With your racing driver head on, I said to Christian [Horner, Red Bull Team Principal], I felt it smacked of desperation.” Referring to the on-track clash, he added, “Something went wrong, and he then got into trouble in the first corner.” The highlight? A glaring misjudgment of Kevin Magnussen, which, according to Clarkson, screamed “desperation“.

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Damon Hill, the 1996 World Champion, jumped in, hinting at bigger concerns for Red Bull Racing. Something went wrong, and he then got into trouble in the first corner. And then I think a little bit of the frustration did creep in, and it got worse and worse. And the thing on Magnussen was really, you know, desperation, and he was perhaps a little bit annoyed with being where he was,” Hill remarked.


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The duo danced around the sensitive topic of the No. 2 driver’s role, and Hill nostalgically brought up Michael Schumacher‘s Ferrari era. “Nobody could cope with being number two to Michael,” Hill reminisced, emphasizing the significance of being a reliable wingman. He alluded to legends like Senna, Hamilton, and Verstappen, mentioning, “There are these people who just are so difficult to beat.”

Summing it up with a perfect one, Hill reflected on Ross Brawn’s advice to the then Ferrari No. 2 Eddie Irvine, “Can’t beat him, join him. Just be a teammate.”

While it’s all in good fun, one can’t help but wonder: is Perez’s seat getting just a tad warm?

Sergio Perez’s rollercoaster Grand Prix: A deep dive

The Japanese Grand Prix saw more twists and turns than an episode of a daytime drama. But let’s focus on our main character for the day: Sergio Perez. With a performance oscillating between “Oh no!” and “Why, Sergio, why?!” Perez faced both the ire and sympathy of F1 fans worldwide.

Early on, poor Perez found himself squeezed into a motor sandwich between Sainz and Hamilton, causing the first blip in his race. What followed? A wing change and a penalty after he played “overtake Alonso” during a Safety Car period. And as if those were not enough, a daring move on Magnussen went sour, leading to more damage, another front wing change, a retirement, un-retirement, another penalty, and then a final bow with retirement. Sounds tiring? Imagine being Perez!


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Le Mans champion, Richard Bradley, didn’t mince his words, saying that Perez seems to have entered his “second big spiral” of the year. The issue, according to Bradley, isn’t just the collisions but a lack of confidence. He points out that while Max Verstappen is cruising ahead, potentially to grab the Drivers title, Perez seems to be stumbling, even if he remains second in the standings.

Remembering the glory days of F1, Bradley invokes memories of strong “rear gunners” like Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard, and Valtteri Bottas. These legends were the reliable backups to the frontrunners. They were consistent. Perez, in Bradley’s opinion, seems to be far from that role now. With Verstappen streaking ahead, Red Bull needs a “solid rear gunner”, but the recent performance raises questions about Perez’s reliability.


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To be fair, holding onto an F1 seat, especially one as coveted as Red Bull’s, is no small feat. Perez surely knows that there’s a long line of hungry racers eyeing his spot. And though Daniel Ricciardo’s move to AlphaTauri seems to confirm Perez at Red Bull for 2024, it leaves many wondering: will he rise to the occasion or continue to spiral?

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Written by:

Pulkit Jai


One take at a time

Pulkit is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a strong academic background in engineering, he possesses an in-depth understanding of the intricate mechanics and technology driving Formula 1 racing. This expertise allows him to offer insightful analysis, exploring the technical aspects of the sport and shedding light on the innovative advancements that shape the world of F1.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare