The first Mexican driver to lead his home race, and the first on the podium, Sergio Perez admits he “wanted more”.
While his team-mate Max Verstappen romped off into the distance, taking a comfortable win at the Mexican Grand Prix, Perez had a played a game of strategy against the Dutchman’s title rival, Lewis Hamilton.
Closing in on the Mercedes driver with 10 laps to go, Perez edged ever closer to the rear wing of the W12.
At one stage, with two to go, it looked as if the Red Bull driver could do but he fell short, crossing the line 1.2s down.
P3 though still meant a podium at his home race, a first for any Mexican driver.
“Being on the podium at your home grand prix, it’s something very special,” he said.
“I wanted more, I want to win the race, and obviously to finish 1-2 for the team would have been amazing.
“At the end of the day, we are such competitive people that if we finish third, we really don’t enjoy it. But today is one of those days that I must enjoy.
“The crowd and just seeing so many people so happy, and especially on the podium, like everyone that has been with me since day one, was on the podium.
“That was extremely special for me.”
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Speaking about his late-race tussle with Hamilton, Perez revealed Red Bull thought about under-cutting Hamilton in the pit stops only for the Briton to pit as they were about to.
Red Bull therefore opted to keep Perez out a little longer, the driver becoming the first Mexican driver to lead his home race.
Running long in his first stint, he then had fresher tyres to chase down Hamilton but wasn’t able to finish the job.
“It was really close,” he said.
“There was a lap where it was so critical to do the undercut. Obviously, they pitted that lap, so we did the opposite and we went long.
“It was a bit tricky with the lapped cars as well. I reckon we all lost some time there. It was really close.
“Overtaking here is really difficult, given their straight-line speed that they were really strong on that. I didn’t have the chance.
“So a bit of a shame, because I think we had the pace to finish 1-2 today.”
Sunday’s result meant Verstappen extended his lead over Hamilton to 19 points while Perez closed the gap to Valtteri Bottas to 20 points in the race for third place in the Drivers’ Championship.
Perez delivering at just the right time for Red Bull
Sergio Perez has helped Red Bull catch Mercedes by delivering at all the right moments.