Sergio Perez says he was able to match Max Verstappen’s pace when his teammate emerged as a threat for victory in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Verstappen started from 15th place and was climbing through the field into the top four when a Safety Car allowed him to make a pit stop and retain position. At the time, Perez had held a comfortable lead after passing Fernando Alonso and was some 20s clear of Verstappen, but the Red Bulls were running one-two from the halfway point, with the Mexican able to keep the gap above 4s for the rest of the race.
“It was going well. When I overtook Fernando I thought I could do my race,” Perez said. “But then the Safety Car again wanted to take the victory away from me in Jeddah, but not this time! We managed to get a good distance with Max; we kept a healthy lead and that went well.
“I’m proud of getting the victory. We know how strong Max is in the races and we’ve been matching him in Bahrain, we matched him here, so we have to keep working really hard. I think my team is doing a great job. We managed to get a good read on the high fuel, so I’m proud of my team today.”
Verstappen posted the fastest lap right at the end after the race was called off between the two drivers, but Perez says he wasn’t aware he could try and secure the extra point himself.
“I was told to keep a certain pace in the end. It’s something we need to check because I was told to keep the pace and not try anything.”
Despite that confusion, Perez says the level Red Bull is operating at doesn’t get enough credit after another dominant victory for the team.
“I’m really proud of the performance from the team; the guys have worked their (rears) off and what they’ve done this weekend, it’s impressive to see from the outside. So I’m really happy for them first of all — really this victory goes to them, and just to Milton Keynes. They brought such a fantastic car.
“And the team — I love being part of Red Bull Racing because the way we push, the way we deliver, everyone is working at the maximum. We are at such a high level that people outside of the team probably don’t realize. From Christian (Horner) to everyone in this team…really delivering and operating at a very high level, so it’s great to be part of.”