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Sergio Perez isn’t convinced the crash on Sunday in the Canadian Grand Prix was his fault. The crash was a violent one but luckily no one was hurt when Williams F1’s Felipe Massa collided with the Force India driver. Perez told Sky Sports F1:

“It was very disappointing to lose such a strong result through no fault of our own,” Perez said. “I was following the same line and braking patterns as in the previous laps and I just got hit from behind by Massa. There was plenty of space on the left of my car to attempt a clean overtake and I cannot understand why he had to scrape by.

“I watched several replays of the incident and I can’t help but notice how Felipe turns right just before he hits me. I can only think he must have changed his mind and wanted to rejoin the racing line, his misjudgement cost us a big amount of points.”

The row amped up when Williams F1 Williams’s head of vehicle performance, Rob Smedley, shared his thoughts on Force India’s culpability suggesting that the car shouldn’t have been on track telling AUTOSPORT:

“I think it was lap 67, [he was] talking about having no rear brakes. So they told him to carry on if he could, and if you can’t then to pit, which seems to me to be a fairly f***ing terminal problem to be honest.

“Why you leave a car out when you’ve got that sort of problem is beyond me.”

Smedley cited other teams, including his own, who experienced brake failure and took appropriate action:

“You saw two teams, one of which was ours, knowing when to call it quits – with Valtteri [Bottas] we had to tell him to back off and save his brakes and engine, but more critically brakes because it can be dangerous, and we lost points. That’s life.

“Lewis Hamilton, because of his problems – brakes again – has to stop the car. That’s a guy fighting for the world championship and he stops.”

Perez says that just nonsense and that the car was fine:

“Also, I’m not happy about comments saying we should have retired the car,” Perez added. “It was perfectly driveable with just some adjustments and we showed it up until the moment in which we were taken out. Other cars out there had been in similar conditions for way longer than us and they finished the race without problems.

“If someone thinks you can keep two Red Bulls behind for as long as we did with so-called ‘terminal’ problems, they are clearly misguided.”

Things get heated when you  fail to miss what could have been your best race finish of the year and that goes for both Williams F1 and Force India. Unfortunately both teams threw away a lot of points on Sunday and from all of the video, it certainly is difficult to asses blame but Smedley has re-framed the conversation about guilt into the turn one by suggesting the car should not have been on track in the first place.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • NeilM

    I’ve watched the overhead shot of this incident in slow motion from my TiVo a number of times, including using frame by frame advance.

    Perez was a couple of car lengths behind and just barely left of center of Vettel. Massa came up fast to pass Perez on the left, at which point Perez pulled out to the left, by a full car width and at a noticeable left-pointing angle, into Massa’s path. Massa had also tightened up slightly to the right, since the track is actually curving to the right at that point before arriving at a moderately sharp left turn. Massa tries to avoid Perez, but they collide.

    The only reasonable explanation I can see is that Perez decided to try a pass to the inside of Vettel in the approach to the upcoming left turn and didn’t realize how quickly Massa was closing on him. Otherwise why would he pull left as they approached turn-in? Perhaps he wasn’t using his mirror at all, since if he had been his left mirror would have been completely full of Williams. Absent any passing, the normal line at that point is a fast, shallow arc following the track as it curves right, followed by braking as the track straightens and then a decisive turn-in to the left.

    For his part, Massa was making an outside pass to the left in order to slot in between Vettel and Perez before the next turn, and was caught out by Perez’s move. He tightened his line slightly to follow the track. The nose of Massa’s car was already ahead of Perez’s left rear wheel when Perez’s intent became clear, and by then it was much too late. Perez’s left rear wheel was by now behind Massa’s right front wheel when the two cars finally touched.

    Massa’s passing plan was fairly aggressive, but nothing out of the ordinary. Perez, on the other hand, failed to exercise proper caution and pulled right into Massa’s path, causing a serious high speed accident. As such I believe Perez bears overwhelming responsibility for what happened, and got off fairly lightly with a five spot grid penalty.

    • Rick T

      Thats exactly what I saw when I watched the replay.
      I seems to me that pirez would use the manson defence when accused of crimes.. HAHA!

  • rapierman

    Both of them moved: Perez a tick to the left, Massa a tick to the right. Neither one saw the other. It was 50-50. They both screwed up. I dunno if it’s possible to penalize them both, but that’s the way I saw it.

  • Mr. Obvious

    In the world of road cars, and generally in the world of racing as well, the car in front is presumed to have the right-of-way, or at least the benefit of the doubt. Seems to me that both cars made moves away from the racing line that ultimately resulted in a “racing incident”. The notion that Perez is at greater fault (and thus given a five-place grid penalty), while Massa gets away without any culpability is a gross miscarriage of justice. Should Sergio be more to blame because he was perhaps a bit too focused on the car in front of him, while Massa clearly wasn’t focused enough on the car in front of him?

    • Natthulal

      In the world of road cars, and generally in the world of racing as well, the car in front is presumed to have the right-of-way, or at least the benefit of the doubt.
      >> And Obviously, you have not encountered the rule of watching for another vehicle your blind spot before changing the lane, in the world of road cars.

      • Good idea but WRONG. There are no painted lines or lanes on the track. In road driving if you hit the car in front in the same lane, you are at fault. Period. In racing there is one road and all this crap about a racing line as if that means there are imaginary lanes superimposed on the open track are just BS. Massa was behind, the track is only so wide, he had room safely on either side but misjudged it. One lane, he was behind, end of reality.

    • You are right. Period. The car in front is NEVER responsible for the car behind.

  • it was massa’s fault. no doubt about it. the 5 place grid penalty for sergio is simply ridiculous. massa sux

  • UAN

    From the overhead shot, it’s clear Perez moved to defend. As everyone has pointed out, Perez has the right to defend. But, and this is the key but, he doesn’t have the right to do that in the braking zone. The stewards would have saw telemetry of where Perez started braking and then made the move to defend. It’s pretty clear cut.

    I also don’t think Perez really saw Massa. In contrast, and folks can say whatever else they want about Vettel, Vet has phenomenal spatial awareness – case in point, he saw the flash of Massa’s car in his mirror and opened up his turn. Saved his race for sure, perhaps even more than that.

  • I am so glad Massa’s babysitter is back to true form defending his boy with emotional outbursts which, frankly, bring F1 into disrepute. He’s catagoric that it was Perez’s fault, he’s f**king sure. Well, Mr. Smedley (makers of very fine UK undergarments), here’s a simple fact: Massa was behind, Massa rear-ended Perez. If Perez took a hard line, defending, that’s racing. If Massa did not anticipate Perez’s braking or line, Massa was behind and it was his responsibility. If Massa does not like Perez’s driving, speak up boy, let’s see what you have to say… oh, no wait, his babysitter from ex-Ferrari is in control.
    As for a 5 place penalty, who cares (although I really want Daley to explain this one!)? Pretty soon this whole season will be a succession of qualifying and then place penalties as all the new over-stressed garbage equipment begins to fail. Quali will be boring, breakdowns will be boring, risks will ramp up, someone will get hurt because drivers will become more desperate. F1 has been trashed.
    Wait for it… wait for it…. Vettel’s penalty will come all too soon…

    • mike

      Thank you Peterriva….just what I was thinking and stated perfectly.

  • NeilM

    Lots of opinions. But the stewards have spoken and it’s Perez who’s penalized for causing an avoidable accident.

    End of story in the real world. Well, if F1 is any kind of a real world. ;-)

  • NeilM

    BTW, regarding Massa in general, I kind of like him. He’s capable of pulling off some cracking good laps on occasion, and it was interesting to see him starting to do well in Canada.

    But then I watched him trying to pass Vettel. The Williams had the pace to do it, but Massa kept running up on the Red Bull, having to check his speed, and thus losing momentum. Vettel would then pull away again. Rinse, lather, repeat. This was not good race craft. You’d never have seen, say, Alonso making that mistake, much less doing it over and over. Frustrating to watch.