Sergio Perez believes getting stuck behind Max Verstappen during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix cost him second place to Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc one-stopped his way to second to take the runner-up spot in the drivers’ championship, despite Perez starting ahead and running in second for the first half of the race. After the first round of pit stops, Leclerc was closing in on Perez who complained he was being held up by Verstappen when the lead Red Bull was 2s ahead, and the Mexican cited that spell as a crucial blow to his hopes of catching and passing Leclerc in the closing stages.
“It’s how this sport really works,” Perez said. “You know, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Today, I think Ferrari and Charles did a fantastic race. They have great tire management and they were stronger than us, especially on that first stint. I died towards the end and that made it a little bit tricky, our strategy.
“And it was that second stint, while I was behind Max — Max was on a one-stop, I was on a two-stop, and then I ended up not being able to maximize this stint, and I couldn’t push as much as we should have pushed on that second stint. But at the end of the day, we gave it all and that’s what really matters.”
Perez says a switch to a one-stop strategy was considered in order to keep Leclerc behind, but believes the biggest issue was being too conservative with his pace.
“We were discussing it at some points, but I think we thought that the deg was going to be higher than it really is,” he said. “We just didn’t push as much as we should have pushed on that second stint, and probably we left 2s on the table there.”
After finishing three points behind Leclerc in the final standings, Perez also says an incident with Pierre Gasly cost him a lot of time but that he doesn’t see the point in any punishments being handed out.
“I certainly lost a bit, probably a second or so, or probably more,” he said. “It was clearly blue flags, but he was in a fight and it’s pretty hard to give up the position. I think he was thinking to go for the move but I just ended up being there and I thought he left it open.
“I went for it and luckily I could brake at the last minute otherwise there would have been contact so I think in normal conditions that will certainly be a penalty for Pierre but it is the last race. I’m just happy to go home, (not press the issue)…it’s how it goes sometimes.”