Racing Point has explained why it decided to bring Sergio Perez into the pits late in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, in a move that ultimately cost him a podium.
Perez was running third after Max Verstappen’s retirement brought out the Safety Car, having started on medium tires and running long to leapfrog a number of the cars ahead. Despite overtaking proving extremely difficult, Racing Point opted to switch from hard to soft tires for the final few racing laps, dropping Perez to sixth on the road – where he would finish – but technical director Andy Green says there was concern about the way the car was set up ahead of the restart.
“It could have gone the other way,” Green said. “The race was going our way completely up until the Safety Car. Checo had maneuvered himself with great pace up to fourth, overtook the pack by going longer on the medium tires, he drove really well, the car was really strong. We were very happy with where it was going and the worst possible scenario was a Safety Car. That was not really how we were geared up, unfortunately.
“It was always going to be a difficult decision, that one. We were on the hard tires, the car had been set-up quite specifically for the long runs, and for the race we were incredibly nervous about having to restart the hard tires behind the Safety Car and I think we would have struggled. So the safest thing to do – and we thought the most logical thing to do – was to swap him for a set of the new softer tires so we didn’t have to worry about that.
“We thought other people might do the same, but a lot depends on how they were set up for the race, and I think it probably just showed where our race pace was, because we’d set the car up to look after the tires and be kind and not overheat them. So we were always going to struggle behind a Safety Car in that situation.
“And then you get other things with the second incident behind the Safety Car which we couldn’t have predicted, so the number of laps remaining to overtake was shortened again by a considerably margin so that worked against us.
“Hindsight, we would have made a different decision, but I think at the time with the information we had, that’s the decision we came to.”
Perez was critical of the decision over team radio after the race – “Do you think we learned with Kimi how difficult it was to overtake? Another podium that we gave away” – but said he knows the team shares his frustration.
“Looking at it, it didn’t make sense at the time, the call was very late,” Perez told Sky Sports. “But it’s always easier to take the right decision after the race. Overtaking was extremely difficult… it was a painful day because we had the podium in the pocket.
“It’s just hard to digest. They are as disappointed as I am right now. We are a team and we lose and also win together. In hindsight it was the wrong call.”