Sergio Perez was pleased to finish on the podium as part of a Red Bull 1-2 in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza alongside team mate Max Verstappen.
“It is really satisfying to achieve P2 today and it has been a brilliant day for the team,” he said. Perez qualified in fifth for the race, and wasn’t able to make any initial headway when the lights went out to get the race underway.
Although he was working hard to pass George Russell in the early laps, he didn’t manage to get the better of the Mercedes until lap 16.despite the impressive pace of the RB19.
That put him behind Verstappen and the two Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. He stayed out longest of the four and briefly led the race on lap 21.
But once he came in to take a set of hard tyres to see him to the finish, he found himself back in fourth place knowing that if he wanted to pick up a podium, he would need to force the issue on track rather than by strategy.
His task was complicated by Leclerc picking up DRS from Sainz, negating his own DRS boost. It was only when Leclerc dropped behind his team mate that Perez got the benefit and was able to press his attack on lap 32.
“It was so difficult to overtake,” he reflected when interviewed in parc ferme after the end of the race. “We were lacking straight-line speed. I was close at the Parabolica, but it was not enough.
“The Ferraris were very fast on the straights so it was hard to make my way through the field. We had some tough racing, but I fought really hard to overtake and gave it my all and it paid off.
“I was most of the time 0.3s [behind],” he continued. “I knew 0.2 would give me a chance, but 0.3 I wouldn’t even get close. To get through Charles and Carlos, it was pretty insane because I had to use my tyres a lot,” he added.
“I had to put the pressure on Charles and keep out of the DRS from Carlos,” he said. “Then it was a lot of fighting with him and we managed to get both of them.”
“Sergio did a brilliant job finding his form to claim second,” commented Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. “The Ferrari’s were very quick today, just as they have been all weekend.
“Carlos and Charles defended like their lives depended on it, which meant we had to work that extra bit harder,” he added. “This was a very special victory, but we had to do it the hard way.”
Perez said that he had been working hard on optimising the set-up for this week’s race after missing out last weekend in Zandvoort where he slipped off the podium in the final laps and ended up P4.
We didn’t get to show it yesterday, but it’s been a strong weekend in terms of performance. I feel like my form is fully back and I hope we can have a very strong end to the season.
“The team have done a lot of work on the suspension and the set-up of the car and we have made great steps forward here.
“I think we’ve done a lot of progress on the setup side,” he insisted. “I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the car, so I do expect that will see the best form in the next races.”
2023 Italian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, Christian Horner
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