‘I was disappointed and angry’ – Perez on how he turned a poor start into P4 at Sochi
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez recorded his best result of the season at the Russian Grand Prix, finishing the race in the fourth place he’d started in 53 laps earlier. But he had been forced to fight his way back through the field after a poor start that left the Mexican fuming inside the cockpit.
Perez, like Max Verstappen in front of him, struggled to get off the line on the ‘dirty’ side of the track at the Sochi Autdrom, dropping behind the two Renaults of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo by the end of Lap 1. But a beautifully managed first stint on the soft tyres – including a scintillating pass on Ricciardo into Turn 4 on Lap 15 – saw him eke out the C5 rubber until Lap 20, helping Perez climb to a net fourth place that he’d hold till the flag, in what was otherwise a quiet race for the Mexican.
“I was very disappointed and angry after the start, because as soon as I released the clutch, I went into wheelspin,” said Perez. “It was pretty bad so I’m pleased that things got better.
“I think the tyre management in the first stint was key to our race. I could see the Renaults sliding a bit more than myself and progressively, I was patient enough to make sure that we got them. That first stint just made our race.”
A tough weekend for team mate Lance Stroll – which saw the Canadian sidelined in qualifying with an overheating problem, before he was wiped out in Turn 4 on Lap 1 by contact with Charles Leclerc – was particularly galling for Racing Point, losing them the opportunity to compare Stroll’s performance in the updated RP20 to Perez’s in the previous spec car, the team having been short of parts after Stroll’s Mugello crash.
But with Perez set to get the upgrade at the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring next time out, the Mexican was targeting even better performances with an update that had appeared to give a useful advantage in Stroll’s hands at the Tuscan Grand Prix.
“I’m pleased that I managed to maximise the performance today,” said Perez, “and I look forward now to have the upgrades on my car coming in Germany. Hopefully it can get even better!”
Meanwhile, with McLaren failing to score on race day in Russia, Perez’s 12 points saw Racing Point close to within two points of their third-placed rivals in the constructors’ championship, with seven races left to run this season.