Perez reflects on 'difficult race' in Las Vegas after helping Red Bull secure maiden 1-2 in drivers' championship
Sergio Perez has admitted that he was taken by surprise by Charles Leclerc’s last-minute overtake for P2 in the Las Vegas Grand Prix, in what proved to be an eventful evening for the Red Bull driver. However, his P3 result helped secure him second in the drivers' championship and Red Bull's first ever 1-2.
After starting from P11 on the grid following a difficult qualifying, Perez made contact with Valtteri Bottas on the opening lap of the race, forcing him to pit for repairs while the Virtual Safety Car was deployed to allow for debris to be cleared.
The Mexican then started to make his way through the field and benefitted from pitting under a mid-race Safety Car to eventually find himself winning a battle with Leclerc for the lead. However, the Ferrari man soon found a way back to the front before Perez then lost P2 to team mate Max Verstappen.
While the world champion surged ahead to claim victory, Perez reclaimed second from Leclerc before the Monegasque snatched the position back in the final lap of the Grand Prix.
Reflecting on the race after his P3 result, Perez said: “It started really difficult with a lot of damage initially. We broke the front wing so we basically [went] all the way to the back of the grid. Then progressively we were picking one by one, and things were going well. We had really strong pace on that first stint, so we put ourselves back in contention and then with the Safety Car that brought us in the race.
“I overtook Charles but I could not pull away from him. I was just carrying a little bit too much wing in my car so my straight-line speed was a little bit down, so I could pull away from him. Then Max came, he passed us both. With Charles he went straight.
“It was quite difficult out there with the gusts of wind that we had a few times. I ended up locking up a few [times] but luckily, we kept it on track. In the end with Charles, I was not expecting him, he was 0.7 [seconds back] but then the braking zone he was there so well done him and to Max.”
In terms of the spectacle of the inaugural event at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, Perez believes that it delivered some exciting racing.
“Yeah, I think it did,” he commented. “It was good for racing. It was not easy to pull away from the people behind and it’s a little bit like Baku, being the lead car makes life a little bit harder for you out there, so I think it did deliver.”
Despite missing out on second in the race, Perez’s result means that he has now secured P2 in the drivers’ championship. with the gap to third-placed Lewis Hamilton – who finished P7 in Las Vegas – now standing at 42 points ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
This also means that Red Bull have secured a one-two finish in the drivers’ rankings for the first time in their history.