Perez was just ‘half a lap’ short of podium place

Henry Valantine
Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez said his late charge to challenge Valtteri Bottas for the final podium position was just slightly too late for him to snatch P3 at the Styrian Grand Prix.

Perez had been running third on track in the first part of the race, keeping Bottas behind – but a slow pit stop of 4.8 seconds allowed the Mercedes driver to pit a lap later and crucially pass the Red Bull and gain track position.

The Mexican took an extra stop to give himself more pace in the final laps at the Red Bull Ring, with Perez reeling in the second Mercedes at over a second per lap to get back into play for a podium position.

Ultimately, though, his slow first stop proved to be costly, but the Red Bull driver was pragmatic after the race.

“Half a lap, really [to overtake Bottas],” Perez said to Sky Sports when asked how close he was to passing the Finn. “It’s how it is sometimes. The soft was [performing] more than expected, then we had a poor stop – which gave the position to Valtteri.

“But then we tried to recover with the strategy and, unfortunately, there at the end it wasn’t enough. We just tried our very best.”

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Christian Horner agreed that a podium was possible for Perez in Austria, barring his slow stop.

The Red Bull team principal was quick to praise his pit crew for their recovery to execute a much faster stop for Max Verstappen, but was pleased with Perez for how he was able to bring himself back into podium contention late on.

“He drove the wheels off the car today,” Horner told Sky Sports. “It was a shame the pit-stop didn’t go better for him because he would have maintained the track position pretty easily.

“But then his fightback was impressive. It was just a second or two on that left rear. And the guys, fair play to them because they composed themselves and I had it as a 1.85-second stop on the next stop for Max. To rebound under that pressure was fantastic.”

Having qualified P4 at the weekend and shown improved pace over a race distance, Perez said he is beginning to feel more comfortable with every passing weekend – and is looking forward to returning to Red Bull’s home circuit in a few days’ time.

He added: “I think it’s very little details now, just putting everything together will be enough. That’s the positive bit and we are there, we just have to be putting everything together at the right time.

“I think it will be very positive to have another weekend here, I think that can only be very positive for us.”

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