Despite securing runner-up spot in the drivers’ championship, Sergio Perez admits to having “mixed feelings” about today’s Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Third place gives the Mexican a 41 point advantage over Lewis Hamilton ahead of the season finale in a weeks’ time in Abu Dhabi.
However, despite helping Red Bull secure its first ever 1-2 in the driver standings, his failure to secure second in today’s race left him with mixed feelings.
Starting from 11th on the grid, the Mexican dropped to 18th after becoming involved in the first corner mayhem which saw him hit the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas in the moments after the Finn had gone into the spinning Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.
After pitting for a new front wing Perez gradually worked his way up through the field and once the first round of pits stops was over found himself in second behind Charles Leclerc.
Several laps later he passed the Ferrari, losing the lead again when he pitted under the Safety Car that followed the Russell/Verstappen clash.
He subsequently retook the lead only to be passed by Leclerc and then Max Verstappen.
Though he repassed the Ferrari on Lap 43, a bold move by the Monegasque on the final lap saw the Mexican lose out on second for the second successive race.
“It’s a bit of mixed feelings,” he subsequently admitted. “It was really not nice to lose a place to Charles there in the end.”
Looking back at the start, he said: “We broke the front wing, so we basically went all the way to the back of the grid. And then progressively we were passing one-by-one and things were going well. We had really strong pace on that first stint, so we put ourselves back in contention. Then with the Safety Car, that brought us into the race.
“I overtook Charles, but I couldn’t pull away from him,” he admitted. “I was carrying a little bit too much wing on my car, so my straight line speed was a little bit down.
“It wasn’t easy to basically pull away from the people behind,” he added. “It’s a little bit like Baku, being the lead car makes life a little bit harder for you out there, so I think it did deliver.
“Max came, he passed us both,” he said of the move that gave his teammate the lead. “It was quite difficult out there with the gusts of wind that we had a few times. I ended up locking up a few times, but luckily we kept it on track.
“At the end with Charles, I wasn’t expecting him,” he admitted. “He was 0.7s behind, but then in the braking zone he was there, so well done to him and to Max.”
“He was so unlucky to lose out on second place,” said Christian Horner, “but it was enough to see him secure second place in the championship and we are extremely happy for him and the team.
“It was a fantastic drive from both of them and it sums up the year we have been having. Max’s 18th win, a 20th victory for us and our first P1 and P2 in the drivers’ championship. It really has been a fantastic year.”
“It started really well, fighting for the championship,” said Perez as he reflected on the season as a whole. “But then, I think in Barcelona, we had such a dominant car, but I just couldn’t set it up properly. It was just getting out of my hands, the confidence was going down.
“So just to manage to come back and really put together a strong result, I think to be able to constantly be fighting at the top, that really is the highlight of my year.”
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