Sergio Perez reckons the pressure he piled on Max Verstappen led to his early F1 Azerbaijan GP stop as he adds on Turn 15 moment.
Red Bull’s Perez was given a chance in F1 Azerbaijan GP and he pounced on it with both hands to secured his second win of 2023 which was a much needed one to not let Verstappen extend his advantage and run away with the championship.
Since the start of the grand prix, Perez put on tremendous pressure on Verstappen after they both cleared Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in quick succession. And the Mexican feels that the pressure he put him on led to an earlier than scheduled pit stop.
He agrees that the safety car helped him, but he had to endure the pressure then from Verstappen for the remainder of the grand prix which he did so. There was a scare at Turn 15, but Perez says it actually helped him more than causing a damage.
He was feeling a bit low with his front end and a whack settled it for him. Team boss Horner was heard assuring Verstappen on the radio, but he gave due credit to Perez despite some luck as he titled him ‘King of the Streets’.
Intense from start to finish –
Perez: “Very intense, you know. The first stint was super intense, just making sure I stayed in that DRS. And then once I was in the DRS, just pushing Max to make sure that he used his tyres and I think that was one of the keys. But then once we were on the Hard compound, it was really hard, you know, to keep Max behind, because I knew that as soon as he would get DRS then that’s it, really. So just to keep him behind the DRS was a massive challenge. And we were pushing each other massively. We really gave it all, lap after lap. And I’m really happy to come away with this victory.”
Keeping the pressure on Verstappen early on –
Perez: “Yeah, that was key, you know, because once Max got by I knew that it was really important not to lose too much time with Charles, because if I were to lose too much time with Max then it will be really difficult to catch him. Luckily, I managed to spend just a lap behind Charles. And once I was able to clear him then lap by lap I got into the DRS from Max and that really made my race. Once I was in his DRS, it was about time to overtake him, but he obviously pitted. And then we got the Safety Car, so I got a bit lucky there.”
Touch at Turn 15 –
Perez: “It actually helped me! I was struggling with the front end, so somehow I picked up a bit of front end. So something to see, but no, in all honesty, I was quite concerned, because the paranoia starts and you start to look at the tyre and I was looking at the tyre and my engineer asked me what happened on 15 and I’m like, ‘wait, I’m just looking that everything is OK with the tyre’, so yeah, it was one of those moments where you drop a bit of concentration and in this place you cannot really, it doesn’t matter where you are in the race, you cannot lose your concentration at all.”
One of his strong outings –
Perez: “Well, I think Jeddah, here, they’ve been two strong weekends for me when I’ve been pushed by Max pretty much from beginning to end. Also, I’ve done very good races like… I remember Singapore was also when I was pushed by Charles extremely hard. I don’t know. I wouldn’t say this is my best ever race. I think it was just a very, very good race where I pushed from the start to the end without mistakes and I think always when you do that, you believe that you can beat anyone. So it’s just about keeping it up throughout the season.”
Opportunity presented and taken –
Horner: “Sergio Perez is definitely living up to his nickname of King of the streets or whatever his latest Docu series is going to be called. An incredible weekend by him, obviously winning the sprint race. Obviously, he got a little bit lucky with the timing of the safety car. But having got the lead, he built close to a four second lead at one point and controlled the race. So he used his opportunity and converted it into a into a great win. They were pushing each other hard they were comparing times that they touched the wall under the podium there, but we let them push all the way through, that was always the plan going into the race.”
Hold off Verstappen –
Horner: “Absolutely, Sergio Perez passed Leclerc and he closed the gap down to Max and then yes, he got lucky through his safety car. As I said earlier, he then had to get on and deliver. You’ve got Max Verstappen behind you. He’s not taking it easy. And he was able to build up I think a 3.7 seconds lead at one point and all credit to Sergio Perez, he drove a great race today.
Here’s Max Verstappen, Christian Horner on pit call and more