Sergio Perez admitted his relentless third place finish in Istanbul was not easy and the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix was not an easy race for him.
Perez was hired by Red Bull for one simple reason, and that is to have an experienced driver who can support team lead driver Max Verstappen in his quest to secure his first Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship title. He was not able to do his job frequently, but adequately made up for that in Istanbul Park.
Perez qualified seventh in Turkey, but started sixth after Lewis Hamilton served his engine penalty, and was one of the cars Hamilton had to pass in his damage-limiting race from 11th place. As it turned out, Mexico’s RB16B was impossible to pass despite the seven-time champion’s racing prowess. The brawl between the two on lap 34 proved to be the highlight of the race.
Perez then spoke about his difficult race in his team’s press release and said: “This podium is very special because it was not an easy race for me, it was sometimes hard and exhausting so I am very. happy tonight.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been up there, I think the last two or three races we should have been on the podium, but we were so unlucky. I got off to a good start, I think there was some contact between Fernando and Pierre in the first corner so there were three cars, including me, and I thought we weren’t going to get there but in the end , it was a good result for me.
“After that I didn’t feel comfortable in the first stint with the car and lost a lot of ground, but the second stint was about pushing at the right time and using my experience to get a podium for the ‘team.
Of his epic battle with Hamilton, he said: “Lewis was getting closer really fast and at that point I was having a lot of trouble with my tires, he had a good pace and I thought he might overtake me. , but it turned into a good fight. and I came out on top. Lewis is a top driver and it was nice to race with him.
“When I was on the podium I saw a lot of Mexican flags in the stands, we are so far from home here in Turkey so it was nice to see.
“I think we can learn a lot from this race, it’s a good result for the team and now we look forward to Austin,” concluded the veteran Mexican.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner described how the team handled strategy with Perez and said: “For us the crucial moment today was when Checo was pitted against each other. because we didn’t think Hamilton’s tires were going to arrive at the end of the race.
Horner is full of praise for the Mexican: “Checo did an incredible job today, he ran Lewis as hard as Max. He went wheel to wheel with him and he actually ended up in the pit lane when Lewis took him out, then it was a drag race in the start-finish straight and he stuck with it to that.
“The next race in Austin was a strong hold in Hamilton so we’re going to have to be on top of our game, it’s great to be in this fight and the whole team is really benefiting from it,” Horner concluded.
Despite his podium in Turkey, Perez is still fifth in the drivers’ standings at 10 points behind McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Red Bull still behind Mercedes by 36 points.