Perez left feeling 'screwed' by Virtual Safety Car ending as Russell revels in 'satisfying' overtake at French GP
George Russell and Sergio Perez put on quite the show in the late stages of the Sunday's race at Circuit Paul Ricard, as they became embroiled in an intense battle for the final spot on the podium. But after the race, both drivers gave opposing views of their Turn 8 incident, as Russell revealed his delight at another podium finish.
The flashpoint between Perez and Russell erupted on Lap 41 when Russell dived down the inside of the Red Bull at Turn 8, forcing Perez wide in the hunt for P3. The fourth-place finisher driver defended his actions and said anything else would have "ruined" both drivers' races.
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"Yes, it was a good battle, apart from Turn 8,” said Perez. “If I do the corner, we will just have ruined our races, but other than that, it was a good tough battle, good race from George in that regard."
Perez was less happy with the timing of the Lap 50 Virtual Safety Car brought on by Zhou Guanyu's DNF, after which Russell passed him for the final podium place (main video).
"I just got screwed with the Virtual Safety Car because it said it was going to end up out of Turn 9, so I went for it, but then it didn’t end, and then it ended into Turn 13, so I don’t know what they were doing with it."
When asked how he pried P3 off Perez at the VSC restart, Russell said: "I knew that would be a massive opportunity for me. Checo was a bit all over the place during the whole VSC, so I knew that if I timed it perfectly and I got the run on him, I might have an opportunity, and I think he was kind of braking to make sure he was still above the delta time while I was accelerating and it gave me that run to overtake him, so that was satisfying.
"I just saw the opportunity and went for it. Great to slip past him. I was a bit disappointed not to keep the position when I did my first overtake on him."
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As for the Turn 8 tussle with the Red Bull driver, Russell said: "For me the rules are clear; if you have the front wheels in front of the defending drivers rear wheels you have the corner and he turned in, pushed me to the curb and he continued. For me it was pretty clear he had to give the position back, but nevertheless, P2, P3 for the team, a great result.
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"But it was really tricky in those last few laps. It’s clear what our strengths and weaknesses are as a team, we clearly struggle in qualifying when the tyres are new and cold. We struggled with tyre warm up after the pit stops but we’re really strong when the tyres are hot, but after that VSC, the tyres cool down, it was a restart again, and the Red Bull had the advantage on me… so I had to do my best to keep him behind."