Sergio Perez was voted ‘Driver of the Day’ by Formula 1’s fans after finishing P8 in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix, but the Red Bull driver’s charge through the field was almost quashed by a “quite unnecessary” contact with McLaren’s Lando Norris.
After his underperformance in Saturday’s qualifying, Perez started his race from the pitlane after Red Bull opted to fit the Mexican’s car with a new power unit that included a new spec energy store. But Perez set off with the bit between his teeth and gradually progressed up the running order to enter the top ten.
However, in the final stage of the 72-lap race, the Red Bull driver, running hot on the heels of Norris and on a one-stop strategy, attempted to overtake the McLaren on the outside of Zandvoort’s Tarzan corner.
But the Briton tried to hold on to his position on the exit and contact ensued between the two rivals, with Perez’s car suffering damage on its right sidepod.
“It was a bit of a shame there at the end because I think that P6 was possible,” said Perez.
“When I passed Lando I had a lot of damage on the right-hand side of the car, when we touched.
“It was quite unnecessary, I was there. I didn’t have enough space, we touched and I damaged quite badly the right-hand side of the car. Since then on I lost a lot of grip basically.”
Drivers anticipated a difficult race ahead of Sunday’s proceedings, with overtaking opportunities at a premium on Zandvoort’s layout.
But Perez’s charge from dead last to 8th certainly proved that where there was a will, there was a way around a rival in Sunday’s race, although the Mexican conceded that it had been risky at times.
“Every overtake was very much on the limit,” he said. “It was so risky, everyone. Following was really really hard, I just gave it all.”
Looking ahead at next week’s Italian Grand Prix, Perez vowed to move forward and “come back stronger”.
“We managed to minimize the damage, let’s put it that way,” he admitted.
“We had a new engine, so we’ve taken that penalty. From now on it’s just looking forward, looking ahead, trying to come back strong at Monza.”
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