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Perez: Unlucky with the timing of the virtual safety car

Perez: Unlucky with the timing of the virtual safety car

Perez: Unlucky with the timing of the virtual safety car
Sergio Perez lamented the bad timing of the Virtual Safety Car during the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as he had to settle for second behind Max Verstappen.

Perez looked to be on his way to beat his Verstappen for a second race in a row, as he outqualified him on Saturday, and out dragged him as well as Charles Leclerc off the line at the start of Sunday’s race.

But after that, the 2021 Formula 1 Champion out his foot down, overtaking the Mexican on track, and as Leclerc retires, he went on to win the race with authority, by a commanding gap of over 20 seconds.

Perez put his lack of pace around Baku down to excessive tyre degradation, which along with a badly timed Virtual Safety Car meant he was not able to fight for the win.

“I started really well, we were leading and felt we had things under control,” he said in the team’s post race press release.

“We were a little unlucky with the timing of the VSC which made things a bit more difficult for us,” he added. “When you are leading the race for the first stint, which is normally the harder one, then you think you are looking strong but that wasn’t to be the case today and that is racing.

It made no sense for Perez to fight with Verstappen

“I got some bad degradation on my rear tyres, which meant I couldn’t keep Max behind, he was extremely fast and it made sense for him to pass me rather than fight it,” Perez pointed out.

“We were told to keep certain pace on the hards once both Ferraris were out of the race and we managed the rest of it well. We have to understand where we could have got more out of the car today and go forward to Canada and make sure we are in contention once again.

“Today was a great result for the Team and a good day in the Constructors’ Championship,” the three-time race winner concluded.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted Perez’s struggle with tyre degradation, and said: “Max seemed to have a bit less degradation than Sergio Perez.”

He pointed out that it may have been down to Perez going with a qualifying-favouring setup on his car, evident from the Mexican’s one-lap pace.

“He went magic yesterday,” Horner said. “May be We emphasized too much qualifying on his side of the garage.”

Pace difference dictated team orders

As for the team orders for Perez not to fight his teammate, the Briton explained: “I mean, the pace difference between the two drivers was so significant.

“We discussed it this morning about, ‘look, if you’re racing each other, just give each other space’, and they did that today.

“And 2018 isn’t too far away, at the back of our minds,” he added referring to Verstappen race ending tyre blowup in 2021.

“So it was very important, you know, that the drivers at this stage of the championship, that they are fair with each other because it is to maximize the points versus Ferrari.

“We know they’ve got a very quick car at the moment. We’ve seen how quickly things can turn around. So as a team, we need to prioritize,” the 48-year-old concluded.

However, Perez’s result in Baku means that he now moved ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship, as he now sits second behind Verstappen, who leads him by 21 points.

(Additional reporting by Agnes Carlier)