Hungarian Grand Prix 2015: Practice smash evokes grim memories but Sergio Perez walks away safely

Coming so soon after the death of Jules Bianchi, there was obvious concern as Perez at first appeared trapped in the upturned vehicle

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Lewis Hamilton dominated both early practice sessions for tomorrow's Hungarian Grand Prix, but not before Sergio Perez had given every-one a major scare when his Force India car flipped over spectacularly in the morning. Coming so soon after the death of Jules Bianchi, there was obvious concern as Perez at first appeared trapped in the upturned vehicle.

He had lost control coming out of the second chicane and run extremely wide on the exit to the next corner. This appeared to break the right rear suspension, which then turned his car sharply right. It slid across the road before hitting the inside barriers nose first. It then appeared to dig in before rotating around its left rear wheel and coming to rest upside down.

The car was badly damaged, but there was widespread relief as Perez was able to extract himself unharmed from the cockpit and was later declared fit.

 

“It was quite a dramatic accident, definitely, losing the car at that kind of speed,” he said. “The impact was not that bad but when I rolled over I got a little bit scared. Getting out of the car was quite a challenge, but thank God [nothing] happened and I’m here.”

The incident was unpleasantly reminiscent of Andrea Montermini’s accident in practice for the 1994 Spanish GP when the Italian ran wide in the final corner and crashed his Simtek, insofar as it came at a very sensitive time when everyone was hyper-alert about safety in the aftermath of the tragedies involving Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at the previous race at Imola.

In the wake of the incident Force India withdrew their cars from the afternoon session. As a precaution, the team chose not to run Nico Hulkenberg in the afternoon. They were working to understand the cause of the failure in order to be ready for today’s free practice session, a decision Perez fully supported. “We made the right decision not to run the car. It was a very strange accident. I thought the [track] was dirty at the time, but looking at the video I can see that the rear suspension just breaks out.”

Meanwhile, Jenson Button enjoyed a heavily revised McLaren amid increasing rumours that for the 2016 season he might depart for Williams, the team who brought him into Formula One back in 2000.

Sources in Italy are increasingly adamant that Valtteri Bottas will leave the Williams team to take fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen’s place at Ferrari alongside Sebastian Vettel. That could enable the veteran Briton to rekindle an always good relationship with Sir Frank Williams and bring the curtain down on his career with a more competitive car.

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Perez observes the wreckage after escaping the damaged car

It could also solve McLaren’s conundrum of how to fit Button, Fernando Alonso, last year’s racer Kevin Magnussen and GP2 champion-elect Stoffel Vandoorne into the three available roles next year, but Button remained tight-lipped.

“Nothing is certain,” he said of his contractual situation at McLaren. “I don’t need to push it to the back of my mind. It’s natural. I don’t feel that I have to think about next year yet. I have years of experience of being in the same situation of people asking me a question about next year when we’re not even halfway through this year. I have no reason to think about the future right now.”

For Hamilton, the focus is on today’s qualifying and tomorrow’s race on a track that has historically been kind to him, and yesterday he seemed in control as he comfortably set the fastest times in each session and on each of the Pirelli tyre options.

But the world champion did take time to give his views on calls to increase safety even more after Bianchi’s death, following last year’s crash in Japan.

“Whatever I do, I tend to do dangerous things,” Hamilton said. “Not just in cars; it’s the thrill you get. Danger is a feeling you get and you will never be able to take that from racing. You never get in the car expecting that something bad will happen, all you might worry about is if you lose control and damage it. But I think some people watching F1 underestimate the danger of our sport. These things are bloody fast, and it hurts if you hit the wall.”