Sergio Perez admitted that he did not expect Charles Leclerc to attack from such a distance on the last lap. Red Bull did not blame him, but rather defended and praised his competitor, who lost second place.
If he’s Sergio Pérez, he’s tough. Two weeks ago in Brazil, he pulled off a photo finish with Fernando Alonso, and now in Las Vegas, they’ve set up something similar with Charles Leclerc. The common denominator in the two races is that both times he was in a better position on the last lap, but both times they succeeded in overtaking him, so he ultimately emerged from the battle a loser.
For Leclerc, there was a feeling that after victory had eluded him and he handed second place to Perez with a literal slip a few laps earlier, he would try to put it all on one card on the final lap. Only Perez, who left the door open for him, did not feel this way.
“I didn’t expect that from Charles at the end. He was seven tenths away from me, but the braking distance came and he was there. He did a good job.”
Perez admitted after the gesture.
He added that he believed to an extent that he might win. After Charles Leclerc was blocked on lap 33, he also remained in front for a while. “I seriously thought victory was within reach today. I passed Charles relatively easily, but I couldn’t get away from him. I was completely behind in terms of top speed today. Charles was able to stay within my DRS distance throughout the race and passed me.” Then “Max outplayed me and that made it difficult to win today.”
Red Bull leaders did not criticize their competitor for the lost second place. Instead, he was praised for breaking his wing on the first lap and emerging from the back of the field to fight for the win. “You can be really happy with him. He finished the first round with a broken wing. He came from the back of the field to the front of the field to fight with Charles. In the last laps we tried to work together as a team and Max pulled me back a little bit to give him a shield against the wind.
“He was very close to second, but he got third and therefore second in the championship. We’ve never finished first and second in the league before, so it’s a big achievement for him.”
Christian Horner pointed out that Perez also secured his second place in the overall standings by finishing third.
Chancellor Helmut Marko did not condemn Perez either. He pointed out that the maximum speed of his car was less than that of Verstappen, who used the other wing, so he was in a more difficult position during the battles.
“Chico was last in the first round. He drove dramatically. It used a different wing than the Max, so it was slower than the Ferrari on the straights. Ultimately, this also led to an overtaking maneuver.”
He said no Service TVTo, adding: “We finished first and second and that was our goal for the season.”
Horner also stressed the importance of wings. “It has an advantage in the middle sector and you’ll lose with it if you’re not on the DRS train. Max brought it back a little bit at the end to give it a windbreak and it wasn’t enough. But look, coming from the back of the field, after changing the front of the car, I think he had a great race.” .
Regarding the fact that Perez could have relied on Leclerc’s maneuver, Marko said: “As I mentioned, Chico went with a slightly larger wing and the Ferrari was generally quicker on the straights. In addition, Leclerc seemed to manage his energy storage in a way that would provide him with everything he needed in that direction. It might have surprised him a little. If it had turned, it would have caused a collision. But “All’s well that ends well.”
Horner approached the score in a similar way. “
What more could we ask of our competitors than to be first and second in the championship? His form and speed were there again. He’s found his form in the last two races.”
Perez himself feels that his season ended on a positive note despite these defeats. “At the end of the day, I always say: It doesn’t matter what happens in the year, the only thing that matters is where you finish in Abu Dhabi. Yes, it was the most difficult year of my career with the car, with the team, with the way the control got out of our hands at some points.” “The races and the way we lost for a few weekends. But we managed to stay together and turn the season around, and that’s the most important thing.” – declared the Mexican, who fell from second place in the championship a year ago in the last race.