Sergio Perez described his first Monaco Grand Prix victory as “a dream come true” after wearing a replica Pedro Rogriguez helmet on his way to a tense win.
Charles Leclerc led the first part of a rain-delayed race before Red Bull’s strategy saw Perez jump from third to the lead as Leclerc was demoted to fourth by Ferrari’s calls. Leading on a drying track, Perez managed the pace throughout the closing stages when his tires started graining and led home Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen and Leclerc by just under three seconds.
“It’s a dream come true,” Perez said. “I mean, as a driver, you dream of winning here. After your home race I think there is no other more special weekend to win, so to do it — and the way we did it — you know we just made it even harder for ourselves at the end. With the graining I had, to not make any mistake, to bring it home; keeping Carlos behind wasn’t easy.
“It’s certainly very high up there, winning Monaco. When you come into Formula 1 and when you come to Monaco — when you drive it for the first time — you always dream about one day winning the race…so it’s just incredible.
“It’s such a big day for myself. I was driving with Pedro Rodriguez’s helmet today, and I’m sure that he will be super proud of what we have achieved in this sport.”
Despite overtaking being so difficult in Monaco, Perez admits he was under pressure from Sainz as he started to struggle with his tires late on, rather than taking it easy.
“I felt that I had the race under control pretty, pretty easy. I felt like I was not really pushing, and then all of a sudden I started to have a lot of understeer into [Turns] 3 and 4, lap after lap, and I could see that Carlos just was next to me.
“I still had very good traction out of Turn 8, so I was still a bit comfortable with it, but going into Turn 10 I knew that it was very important to not make a mistake, because if you cut the chicane then you have to be back to position.
“Carlos was putting on a lot of pressure, but then towards the end I managed to clear up the graining a bit and it was mainly Turns 3 and 4. Then once I managed to open a bit of a gap, I could do my normal line through [Turns] 3, 4, 5, which already brought some lap time with it and we managed to bring it home a bit safer.”