Channel 4 pundit Billy Monger said Sergio Perez made a needless defence which opened the door for Fernando Alonso in Brazil, something which Max Verstappen would not have done.
Red Bull’s Perez and Aston Martin’s Alonso stole the show at the Brazilian Grand Prix with a thrilling battle to the line, concluding in a photo finish which saw Alonso take the final podium spot.
Perez thought he had got the job done as he passed Alonso on his recovery mission from a P9 grid slot, but the two-time World Champion hit back on the final lap, re-passing at Turn 4 and holding on from there.
“Wily old fox Fernando Alonso” gets the better of Sergio Perez
Analysing the exchange, Monger noted that Alonso had forced Perez to go defensive into Turn 1, putting him on a compromised run onto the back straight and creating that opening for Alonso, who needed no further invitation to take advantage.
“He’s a wily old fox Fernando, isn’t he?” Monger stated.
“At one stage, second-to-last lap when Checo finally got that move done on Fernando, you felt, ‘Oh, well that’s it, game over, he’s going to sail off’.
“Fernando wasn’t having any of that. He kept him honest the rest of the lap and he just positions the car so cleverly, he just moves slightly into Perez’s mirrors going down into Turn 1, just enough to make him defend the corner. That compromised his exit and gave Fernando that opportunity to get the move done again. It was just fantastic racecraft.”
Max Verstappen would not have give Fernando Alonso the chance
While Perez is battling to secure a P2 finish in the Drivers’ Championship, Red Bull having never claimed a one-two in the standings, his team-mate Verstappen has stormed to a third World Championship in as many seasons, his Brazilian Grand Prix victory marking win number 17 of the season.
And if it were the dominant Dutchman who Alonso was harrying, Monger believes that Verstappen would not have been pushed into defending at that first turn, thus never giving Alonso that ultimately crucial momentum down to Turn 4.
Put to Monger that Perez must be “kicking himself” on this one, he replied: “Yeah, 100 per cent.
“I think especially because what I said earlier with Fernando making him defend that corner, he didn’t have to do that.
“I think if that was a Max Verstappen in front of Fernando there, he goes on the complete normal racing line, doesn’t defend and he’s under no pressure on the exit.
“So Checo, it was his own doing there, the opportunity for Fernando to get back past him.
“I think he’ll be kicking himself, because that Red Bull this weekend, it’s been so quick.”
Perez has at least put himself firmly back in the driver’s seat for that P2 spot, having extended his advantage over Lewis Hamilton to 32 points.