MUST-SEE: The last-lap Perez overtake that left McLaren's Norris ‘embarrassed’
A last-gasp, last-lap pass on McLaren’s Lando Norris left Racing Point's Sergio Perez elated as he called it one of the “greatest” overtaking moves of his career, while Norris jokingly replied by taking credit for being part of the moment in Abu Dhabi – and said that it looked like he was “mugged” at the end of the race.
Perez started 10th and a long stint on medium tyres found him chasing Norris for seventh in the closing stages of the race, a battle that came down to the very last lap.
“I couldn’t get him. All the way to the end, I was thinking, ‘how am I going to do it?’, because he had pretty good exits, very good traction and good straight line [speed] so in the end I saw into [Turn] 11, I dived in, he closed the door and I went on the outside and it was one of the greatest moves I can remember,” said Perez.
Norris, who missed out on 10th in the drivers’ standings by three points to Perez, replied: “I can’t believe I allowed him to make the ‘best move of his career!’
“I’ll take credit for that, of course. I allowed Sergio to do the best move of his career, no problem Sergio, but I’m annoyed because of it.
“I held him off for four or five laps prior to that. That one lap at the very end, I just wasn’t aggressive enough, I wasn’t the driver I needed to be in that current situation… and I’m sure from the TV it looks like he’s completely mugged me off and I look like a complete rookie and let him pass, which I pretty much did!
“I’m almost a bit embarrassed… I’m annoyed, it was pretty much my one big mistake of the race. Apart from that I was pretty happy,” said Norris.
For Perez, who has now scored points at Yas Marina in every GP since 2013, it was a “perfect” execution of a strategy that had him go long on medium tyres until lap 37, before he switched to hard compounds to end the race ahead of Norris, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.
“Exactly, we had to execute it, we had to be intelligent, patient, and aggressive at times, and we managed to execute a perfect race in the end,” said Perez.