Sergio Perez is convinced the Safety Car cost him a first podium finish for nearly two-and-a-half years at the Eifel Grand Prix.
The Mexican captured P4 for the second consecutive race, emulating his achievement in Russia two weeks earlier, on another eventful weekend for the Racing Point team.
Whereas Perez had missed the two races at Silverstone in August after testing positive for COVID-19, this time it was his colleague Lance Stroll who was ill at the Nurburgring – although he tested negative for the coronavirus – and replaced by Nico Hulkenberg.
Nevertheless, the duo – who were team-mates at Force India, as Racing Point were previously known – from 2014-16 both contributed superbly to lift the ‘Pink Panthers’ up to third in the constructors’ World Championship.
Hulkenberg, who had only received a late call-up on Saturday morning to take part in qualifying, unsurprisingly started at the back of the grid but finished eighth, four places behind Perez.
— BWT Racing Point F1 Team (@RacingPointF1) October 12, 2020
However, Perez believes that, but for the Safety Car appearing when Lando Norris’ stricken McLaren had to be removed from the side of the track, his points haul would have been even bigger.
“The race went as expected in a way,” said Perez. “We had a good start, managed well the first stint, we went really long and I think that made our race.
“I think without the Safety Car the podium was going to be ours. We were catching Daniel [Ricciardo] very fast. He was going to struggle at some point with his tyres, but then the Safety Car came.
“We actually stayed out but I asked the team ‘are you sure about it?’ because we had done that in a couple of races and it didn’t work, and here being so cold it was going to be very difficult to restart the tyres. So we boxed and ended up in the same position. I think that was a good call from the team.
“On the restart I had a go and nearly got him [Ricciardo] into turn 4 but it didn’t work.”
Perez was still satisfied, however, as he provided another advertisement of his abilities as a driver in the quest for a seat next year after being pushed out of Racing Point to make way for Sebastian Vettel.
“I think it’s a great result for the team,” he added. “Nico also did a hell of a job, putting some good points for the team. I think the car was performing well and we did very well in the conditions, so very pleased with that.
“It was a great day [for us] in the championship. We leave Germany very happy and I hope Lance recovers soon to have him back [at the next race] in Portugal.”