Sergio Perez had to stop his car due to a hydraulics issue shortly after crossing the line to take his first win for Red Bull in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and admits he’d been concerned he would make it to the end of the two-lap shootout following the late-race restart.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner congratulated Perez over team radio but he was then instantly told to stop the car, parking up at the pit exit before jumping out to celebrate. Perez had been second to Max Verstappen for much of the race but inherited the lead when his teammate suffered a tire failure and then saw Lewis Hamilton — who had put pressure on him for a number of laps — sail into the Turn 1 run-off area at the restart, but had one another scare to deal with.
“I’m so happy for today,” Perez said. “The race… normally, Baku is pretty crazy. First of all, I have to say I’m very sorry for Max, because he did a tremendous race and deserved to win, and it would have been incredible to get the one-two for the team. But in the end it is a fantastic day for us. We were close to retiring the car but luckily we managed to finish the race. It was quite difficult all the way to the end.”
Horner later confirmed a hydraulics issue was the problem, but Perez was able to secure a crucial win for Red Bull as Mercedes failed to score and he says he’s pleased to start repaying the team for the faith it has put in him.
“I want to start by saying big thanks to all my team. They have given me a massive opportunity. We didn’t have the start of the season we were hoping for. I found my adaptation harder than expected but we have been working extremely hard since day one with the engineers back at the factory and yeah, finally we got a very good result for the team.
“We have been showing flashes of speed here and there. But I think this weekend everything was looking great until Q3 run one, when we got it wrong. But we didn’t let ourselves (get) down. We looked forward and we had a tremendous race, so I’m extremely pleased with the result today.
“This definitely gives a big boost of confidence to myself and also to my team, to my side of the garage. We have such a roller coaster through the seasons, it’s important to enjoy these moments.”