Perez overcomes 'terrible' start for crucial Sprint points


After a run of unfortunate outings in recent weeks including two DNFs in Japan and Mexico, Sergio Perez had a solid Sprint race in Sao Paulo that bolsters his claim to finish in runners-up spot in the 2023 championship.

That didn't look to be the case at the start of Saturday's event, when he lined up on second place on the grid but suffered a "terrible" start that allowed Mercedes driver George Russell to jump ahead of him.

To make matters worse, Perez also succumbed to an attack from Lewis Hamilton moments later, dropping him to fifth place. Crucially it meant Hamilton was poised to make further gains in terms of the championship battle.

"Yeah, it was not an easy one," Perez admitted when talking to the media in parc ferme after the finish. " had a terrible start, ended up losing place to George and then another place to Lewis into turn 4.

Fortunately Perez was able to stop the rot, and over the nest ten laps he took back the positions he lost with passes on both Mercedes drivers so that he was in the top three again by lap 10.

After that he had no chance of catching Max Verstappen and Lando Norris who were ten seconds down the road from him, and he had to settle for a place on the podium as he crossed the line in third.

"From then on, I was fighting. I had to use my tyres a lot, and then I think I paid the price towards the end," he explained. "I think without the [poor] start we could have been a lot further up.

"The problem I had was that I couldn't manage," he continued. "I had to push, and we know that this place is very sensitive for that. It ended up costing us."

Top three in Sprint parc ferme (L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing, third; Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, winner; Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren, second. 04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

It costed Hamilton even more. The seven-time world champion was running in fifth place going into the final laps but the tyre on the Mercedes were in a poor state leaving him unable to fend off Charles Leclerc and Yuki Tsunoda.

It means that while Perez reaps six points form todays race, Hamilton picks up only two points. That extends Perez' lead over Hamilton in the championship to 24 points in all.

"Overall it's been a good day. Good points there," agreed Perez. "Obviously it's important. But it's more important to keep that momentum going now.

"We had a very good day overall [and] hopefully tomorrow, which is the main race, we can consolidate with a strong result."

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing in the post Sprint FIA Press Conference. 04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was certainly happy with Perez' overall performance today especially on the back of Mexico where he crashes out on turn 1 after clashing with Charles Leclerc.

"He was quick in Mexico and it was a shame it didn't work out for him, it was one of those moves where you were going to be a hero or zero and on that day, it was zero," Horner told Sky Sports F1

"So we said 'Checo, turn a page, it's done, you can't change it. Take the positives out of the weekend and apply them in this race a week later'," Horner continued. "And he has brought that here.

"One of his real strengths is when you think he is down, he manages to pick himself up and brush himself down and he has got a resilience," he added. "We have seen a bit of that today."

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