Sergio Perez told the world “don’t write me off” as he raced his way to third place in Hungary with his overtake on Oscar Piastri catching his team boss Christian Horner’s attention.
Arriving at the Hungaroring on the back of five qualifying sessions in which he failed to make it into Q3, Perez’s first mission this past weekend was to progress to the pole position shoot-out.
He did just that. Although he finished up in ninth place, it was still a step in the right direction with the driver bouncing back from an early crash in Friday’s opening practice where Perez was in the barrier just four minutes into the session.
Sergio Perez raced to third place at the Hungarian GP
Perez went on to star in the grand prix as he overtook Carlos Sainz, and George Russell, before muscling his way past Oscar Piastri to reach the podium for what was only his second top-three result in the last six races.
It couldn’t have come at a better time with Perez’s seat said to be on the line with Daniel Ricciardo stepping into the AT04 to audition for a Red Bull promotion.
Even better it impressed his team boss Horner, who called his overtaking “brave” and his race in general a “statement” drive.
“His recovery, his overtaking was brave,” said Horner. “His pace was fast, the way he made the places, passing cars, passing Fernando [Alonso], passing [Oscar] Piastri – the strategy that he had, he was on fire today.
“A race like that only gives you a huge amount of confidence.
“I think his overtaking, the bravery that he showed, for me that was really a statement drive today to say, ‘Look, don’t write me off’.”
As for his own assessment of his performance, the Mexican driver admits it was one he needed.
“I needed this performance and a race like that,” he said. “Now I can look ahead again and focus on wanting to be on the podium every week.”
Even Helmut Marko applauded while fans voted Perez their ‘Driver of the Day’.
“He drove a very good race with some tough manoeuvres,” said the 80-year-old. “He was unlucky when lapping that he left the ideal line and tore the rubber rollers – they are no longer on the tyre and so he was no longer able to attack Norris properly.
“He is a very good racer and after a ninth place in qualifying that was a very good improvement.”
But with Max Verstappen winning the race, his ninth victory of the season, Perez now trails his team-mate by 110 points in the Drivers’ standings.