‘I wasn’t there today’ says Perez as he rues costly mistake that left him P12 at Imola
It had all looked so good for Sergio Perez going into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as the Red Bull driver lined up a career-best P2 on the grid, having outpaced team mate Max Verstappen on Saturday. But an incident-filled race for the Mexican saw him come him 12th at the flag, with Perez left struggling to understand where it had all gone wrong.
Things went awry for Perez early on when he left the track under the Safety Car, losing two places before repassing to take back the P4 position he’d held after being passed on Lap 1 by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – with the stewards investigating and handing Perez a 10-second stop/go penalty.
Perez was back up to fourth at the Safety Car restart, but a mistake at the exit of the Villeneuve chicane on Lap 38 of 63 saw him slew into the gravel, dropping him down to 14th – with Perez recovering just two positions by the chequered flag, eventually finishing 12th as team mate Verstappen claimed a dominant victory.
“I’m very, very sorry first of all to my team because I wasn’t there today,” said Perez, who also survived a second off-track moment at Rivazza a lap after his Villeneuve escapade. “There were very poor conditions which meant that I struggled to put any temperature into my tyres, so therefore the car was very difficult to drive.
“In the Safety Car I went off and came back and I got the penalty for that, which meant I lost the position to Norris and that made things tricky,” he added. “Then at the end, we should have finished on the podium but then I made that mistake – and that was very costly.”
A retirement for Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas at least meant that Red Bull outscored Mercedes 25 to 19 at Imola, with the team now seven points adrift of the Silver Arrows after two races. But Perez’s team boss Christian Horner couldn’t help but rue a missed opportunity to have taken a bigger chunk out of their rivals at Imola.
“It was tough for him,” said Horner of Perez’s race. “He had such a good Saturday and then the race just didn’t go his way this afternoon, a couple of little mistakes, particularly the spin... So tough for him. We should have taken a lot more points out of Mercedes today. But he had good pace in the race and there’s still a long, long way to go.”
Constructors' standings post-Imola
|2 Red Bull Racing
|6 Aston Martin