Thursday 8 December 2016

Formula One breathes sigh of relief as Sergio Perez walks away from huge crash

Just days after Jules Bianchi death, a very close call in Hungary

Published 24/07/2015 | 13:00

Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico, green helmet, stands next to his overturned car during the first practice session for the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix on the Hungaroring circuit in Mogyorod, 23 kms north-east of Budapest, Hungary, Friday, July 24, 2015. The 2015 Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary will take place on July 26. (Zsolt Czegledi/MTI via AP)
Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico, green helmet, stands next to his overturned car during the first practice session for the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix on the Hungaroring circuit in Mogyorod, 23 kms north-east of Budapest, Hungary, Friday, July 24, 2015. The 2015 Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary will take place on July 26. (Zsolt Czegledi/MTI via AP)

Sergio Perez walked away unscathed from a high-speed crash in today's opening practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

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The Mexican driver suffered a rear suspension failure and lost control of his Force India on the exit of turn 11 before hitting the barriers on the opposite side of the track.

Perez's right-front wheel then appeared to get caught underneath his Force India which flipped his car. The former McLaren driver was prompt to inform his team he was "okay" before clambering out of his car.

The harrowing incident, which happened one hour into the 90-minute session, comes with the Formula One community mourning the loss of Jules Bianchi who died last Friday.

Friday's session, the first on-track action since Bianchi succumbed to the devastating injuries he sustained at last year's Japanese Grand Prix, was immediately red flagged and a medical car was sent to the scene.

Perez was swiftly taken to the medical centre as a precaution but emerged waving to the grandstands.

Track marshals remove car of Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico after crashing during the free practice at the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, July 24, 2015. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday July, 26. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Track marshals remove car of Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico after crashing during the free practice at the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, July 24, 2015. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday July, 26. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

"It was a really bad accident, pretty unlucky," said Perez. "The track was dirty and I went on the astroturf and I collided on the other side of the track at a very bad angle, so it made the car roll over.

"But everything's alright. It was a strange accident. I thought it was under control but the astroturf was very dirty which is why I went in the wall. We'll have to check everything in detail."

The session restarted with a little over 18 minutes remaining and it was Lewis Hamilton who led the way.

The world champion, a winner last time out at the British Grand Prix, picked up where he left off ending the morning on top of the timesheets with a fastest lap of one minute 25.141 seconds.

He was 0.109secs faster than Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg with Kimi Raikkonen in third, almost seven tenths off Hamilton's best time.

Raikkonen's session was then brought to a premature end however, after he suffered a front left tyre puncture which caused bits of his Ferrari front wing to scatter the track.

The car of Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico is removed by a crane after crashing, during the free practice at the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, July 24, 2015. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday July, 26. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
The car of Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico is removed by a crane after crashing, during the free practice at the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, July 24, 2015. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday July, 26. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The incident-hit session was suspended once more as marshals removed the debris from the circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo was fourth in his Red Bull followed by his team-mate Daniil Kvyat with Sebastian Vettel sixth.

There was cause for optimism for McLaren, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button 11th and 12th respectively, two seconds off Hamilton's pace.

Friday's opening practice session in the soaring heat in Budapest was the first since Bianchi's tragic passing.

And all of the drivers, most of whom attended his funeral on Tuesday, sported stickers reading "Ciao Jules" on their crash helmets.

Mercedes, Williams and Bianchi's former team, Manor, also ran #JB17 on their cars in honour of the Frenchman. It was announced earlier this week that his race number 17 would be permanently retired from Formula One.

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