Perez needed ‘three more laps to get Hamilton’

Date published: June 21 2021 - Jon Wilde

Sergio Perez Red Bull

Sergio Perez has calculated how much longer the French Grand Prix would have needed to run for him to have challenged Lewis Hamilton.

The Mexican completed a one-three finish for Red Bull as Max Verstappen claimed his third victory of the season to move 12 points clear of Hamilton in the Drivers’ World Championship.

But a one-two would have been even better for the Milton Keynes-based team, even though they stretched 37 points clear of Mercedes in the Constructors’ standings as it was.

Perez was in fourth position, in no man’s land, for much of the race at Paul Ricard as he ran a long first stint, but then gained on the Mercedes duo on his fresher hard rubber during the latter stages.

He was able to pass Valtteri Bottas for third position but could not get close enough to Hamilton to mount a challenge, whereas Verstappen passed the seven-time World Champion on the penultimate lap for the win.

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“I think we needed about three more laps to get Lewis,” the 31-year-old, who won the previous race in Azerbaijan, told reporters.

“We just have to keep improving. My weekend wasn’t as complete as I would have liked it to be, so understanding [that] and we just have to keep pushing to make sure we are in contention for the win the next race.”

That next race comes up very quickly, with the next two legs of the current triple-header, both in Austria’s Red Bull Ring, offering Perez a good opportunity to accelerate his ongoing learnings of the RB16B.

Perez believes that the current triple-header in the calendar – with two back-to-back races in Austria coming up – will prove useful in allowing him to improve.

“If I have a new race next weekend, I already start from a better baseline. I’m hopeful for the coming weekend,” he added.

Known as one of the kinder drivers on tyres, Perez utilised that ability to make the most of his strategy.

“I think the team did a good job with leaving me out on the first stint,” Perez told Sky Sports F1. “The car was pretty undrivable the first 10 laps and the last five laps of that stint.

“The degradation was a lot higher than expected, but I think the team did the right calls. We went long, we were able to manage quite nicely the tyres when we needed and it was a good day at the end.”

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