Perez admits error that sparked penalty as he reflects on ‘chaotic’ race to P2 in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Second placed Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez has stated it was his own mistake that led to his five-second time penalty for an unsafe release in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with the Mexican admitting that this “compromised” his race despite ultimately ending the event in P2.

It was a good start for Perez from P3 on the grid, as he looked to make a move on second-placed Charles Leclerc during the opening lap. While he initially was unsuccessful, Perez later breezed past Leclerc on Lap 4.

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However, the 34-year-old ran into trouble when Red Bull opted to double-stack himself and Max Verstappen during a rush on pit stops when a Safety Car was called on Lap 7, due to Lance Stroll crashing into the barriers.

Perez had a close call with the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso when leaving his pit box, which led to the stewards handing the Red Bull driver a five-second penalty for an unsafe release.

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While he was able to maintain enough of a gap from Leclerc in third by the end of the race to keep P2, Perez admitted after the race that he had been responsible for the error that led to the penalty.

“[My race was] quite a bit more chaotic,” he commented. “I had a good start. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep ahead of Charles because he kept it there and obviously I give him the space into Turn 2 and it was his corner in Turn 4, so that was a nice start, [a] good start once again.

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“And from then on I was able to get through Charles I think within two or three laps, and then it was looking good the race. I was within three seconds from Max, and I think the degradation on that medium stint was looked quite good.

“But unfortunately then we were compromised with such an early Safety Car, and that meant that everyone basically just pitted.

"When I was going out it was actually my mistake because I was told by the team to hold it back, but in hindsight there I looked on the right and there was nobody there when I looked. In hindsight I think the penalty was correct and that pretty much compromised our race.”

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing

Perez took the blame for the five-second time penalty he received due to an unsafe release in the pits

When asked how much visibility a driver has from the cockpit during a pit stop, Perez explained: “You are able to have a bit of awareness of what’s going on around you definitely. Sometimes the team can be a little bit slower than you in the car, but this time it was the other way around. My bad in that one, but it still happily didn’t change our race.”

Despite an eventful evening at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Perez was left feeling more positive about his progression during the weekend in comparison to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, in which he also finished second.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Verstappen takes the win and Bearman shines

“I think last weekend was really a poor race in terms of how we managed it, the amount of degradation we had, but we understood the reasons behind it,’ the Red Bull driver reflected.

“The race was quite strong today because we were able to make the progress from Friday to the race, but qualifying I think we just went a step backwards and that’s the main key from our weekend, to understand why we actually went slower than FP2. [It’s] something we’ve got to understand the reasons behind it, and make sure we are able to keep progressing.”



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