Rumoured to be on the verge of losing his Red Bull race seat as he fought for P2 in the standings, Sergio Perez says his Mexican Grand Prix antics summed up his “different” attitude late in the season.
Perez went from fighting for the World title to reportedly fighting for his Formula 1 future as his 2023 campaign imploded.
A mere six points behind Max Verstappen after his Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory, a crash in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix triggered a qualifying slump that lingered.
‘If you’re fighting for second, then it’s a different story’
When all was said and done and Perez was back inside the top ten in Hungary it was a case of too little too late as his team-mate was in the midst of a title-winning race streak.
On top of having to deal with all that and the disappointment, Perez was also being hounded by rumours of his pending Red Bull exit.
With only second place in the Drivers’ Championship said to be standing between him and a P45, the 33-year-old went into his home race in Mexico with a winner-takes-all attitude.
Either he was going to lead into the first corner despite starting P5 on the grid, or he was going to crash. It was the latter.
“Yeah, basically,” he said as per Motorsport.com when asked if Mexico summed up his late-season attitude.
“I really felt like I had a real option going first into Turn 1 if I made it stick. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out but it could have been a massive result.
“If I’m fighting for the championship, I think you cannot be that aggressive, but if you’re fighting for second, then it’s a different story.”
But with just two podiums in the 10 Grands Prix after the summer break, and scoring less than half of Verstappen’s points, Perez concedes securing the runner-up spot in the championship does not change the story of his season.
“I always say people will only remember where you finish in Abu Dhabi, but I’m aware of the year I had,” he said.
“I think I’ve learned a lot and I’m happy with how we managed to turn our season around.
“We really came out of it stronger than before and made good use of those bad days.”
Perez beat Lewis Hamilton by 51 points but it was touch-and-go at one point with the Mercedes driver just 30 points off the pace heading the penultimate race in Las Vegas where Perez’s return to the podium made all the difference.