Sergio Perez says Red Bull made “the right call” telling him not to fight teammate Max Verstappen as he relinquished the lead in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc started from pole position but Perez took the lead into Turn 1 and held on for the first stint, with the two Red Bulls running one-two after Leclerc made an earlier first pit stop. With Verstappen then closing in having been stuck behind the Ferrari, Perez was told “no fighting” over team radio and duly left the door open for his teammate into Turn 1, a decision he says was the right one.
“With Max, he was clearly a lot faster at that stage of the race,” Perez said. “So yeah, it was the right call not to fight because I didn’t have any pace at the time and Max deserved to be ahead at that point. We also boxed too late. So, there were a few things that played into the result, but still at the end of the day, Max deserved the win, because he was the faster car.”
While Leclerc would retire and leave the Red Bulls an easy run to a one-two finish, Perez says the Virtual Safety Car caused by Carlos Sainz’s stoppage could have been a crucial point in his hopes of victory.
“It was a great start, to get Charles of the line, and really be able to do your own race. It was looking great all the way up to the Virtual Safety Car. Then there was a bit of miscommunication with the team under the Virtual Safety Car. So we missed the opportunity to pit under the VSC, which was quite costly.
“And then we hit a lot of deg on that medium tire after the Virtual Safety Car. So a few things to understand from that. Certainly Max was quite a lot stronger in that phase of the race. And then it was mainly about bringing home after the Ferrari issue.
“So [there are] a few things to understand because I think also the stops were not ideal. So a few bits to understand to try to improve them for Montreal and improve our race pace because certainly Max deserved the win.”
On the miscommunication, Perez suggests he wasn’t told whether he was in a position to make a pit stop and was then relying on a last-minute call from the team that didn’t arrive in time.
“It’s the team who decides and at the time I didn’t have the information whether we wanted to pit or not. I only got the information too late, once it was too late to pit.
“I’m not the one deciding when to pit, and unfortunately we have certain communications in place that we know when to pit and when the window’s open – but a few things went wrong.”