Perez’s ‘toughest race ever’ due to illness, no water

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner hugs Sergio Perez. Austin October 2021

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner hugs his driver Sergio Perez as a cameraman films it. Austin October 2021

Sergio Perez may have gone under the radar at the United States GP, but his P3 on the day was an incredible feat given that he was unwell and without water.

The Red Bull driver qualified third at the Circuit of The Americas, retained his position off the line and, after 56 laps, brought his car home in third place.

While it was a podium for the Mexican driver, it wasn’t an eye-catching drive by any means – until one knows the details.

Perez arrived on the grid telling Red Bull that his water bottle was leaking and within a lap he was without water at a circuit where the track temperature was almost 40’C.

Added to that the driver was ill, suffering from a stomach bug all morning.

“I think it was my toughest race ever physically,” Perez said as he celebrated his podium finish.

“It was a horrible one. I was suffering from some diarrhoea early in the morning for some reason, I don’t know so I hydrated myself really well.

“But then, since lap one onwards I ran out of drink and already, from the first stint I was really really struggling massively to make things properly.

“I was really losing strength and it was really difficult. I think the last 30 or 40 laps were really tough.”

Asked if he had ever felt like this after a race, he said in the post-race press conference: “No, it’s the first time. And I hope the last one.”

Perez was also undone by having to take a used set of medium tyres for his middle stint, the driver have used an extra set of tyres in qualifying when he lost a lap time for exceeding track limits.

“I think there are a lot of positives to take from the weekend,” he added.

“My race was, I think, firstly compromised by the tyres that I had and being on the scrubbed medium, I think was quite a bit of a disadvantage considering how high the degradation was today.

“And then, I struggled massively, physically, from lap 20 onwards, so it wasn’t an ideal race. But I think we managed to stay within the undercut region from the leaders and that really triggered the undercut, firstly with Max on Lewis.

“We tried to do the same with Lewis and he had no other option but to pit, so we avoid him doing his optimal race, so I think in that sense it worked well – but since lap 20 onwards, I was pretty much done.”


Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was impressed with his driver’s fortitude.

“Checo drove another strong race today. … It wasn’t great for him as he was struggling with a stomach bug for most of the weekend,” Horner said. “Not great to lose the fluid on a day like this today.”