Perez: F1 safety car meant it was "game over" for second place in China

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Perez: F1 safety car meant it was "game over" for second place in China


Ferrari driver Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris had delayed their first pit stop in Shanghai and were able to convert into a single stop under a safety car mid-race, deployed to recover the crashed Sauber of Valtteri Bottas.

Perez and teammate Max Verstappen had already made a green flag pit stop earlier and were forced to make a second time in order to arrive at the finish on hard tyres.

Verstappen’s fierce pace allowed him to maintain his lead, but Perez came out behind Norris and Leclerc.

According to the Mexican, having to use his hard tires to pass Leclerc meant he had used up the life of his tires to catch and pass Norris, who comfortably separated the two Red Bulls at the finish.

“At that point the gap was already pretty big and given how good his pace was in a first stint in terms of degradation, I knew it was going to be close,” Perez said after finishing six seconds behind Norris and 19 behind Verstappen.

“We basically had the same pace. Once you get past the car in front and you stop fighting for I don’t know how many laps we ended up fighting between Charles and I, then that’s really the game finished.

“You use your tires so much. You put so much energy into them that they never really come back. It’s a pretty bad place and I’ve paid the price for it.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20, 3rd position, arrives at Parc Fermé

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“But it was the only way for me to get rid of Charles because obviously we were the same age on tires and it was really difficult to get away from there.”

Team principal Horner agreed with the Mexican that the timing of the safety car had ruined Red Bull’s chances of another one-two finish, with Perez between six and nine tenths slower than his teammate world champion in clear air after overtaking Leclerc.

“The safety car came at the wrong time. We actually had to adopt the same strategy as them for the second half of the race, which cost Checo his place on the track,” said Horner.

“He fell behind Lando and Charles and I think he was probably pushing hard to get past Charles.

“He may have used his tires too much at that point, which didn’t leave him enough to take his chance against Charles at the end. I think without the safety car it would have been a one-two finish.”

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