Monday, May 27, 2024

Sergio Perez: “I am definitely in the fight for the title”

Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez claimed victory at Baku City Circuit, rounding out an incredible weekend at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Having started in third place, the Mexican driver bested pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and team-mate Max Verstappen to secure his second win of the season.

Perez overtook Leclerc on lap six of the fifty-one lap race, with RB19 showing its pace on the high-speed streets of Baku. A safety car on lap eleven allowed him to take a strategic tyre change that saw him move ahead of Verstappen, who pitted in the lap before the safety car was deployed. From then on, Perez was able to keep Verstappen at bay for the remainder of the race, ultimately finishing just over two seconds ahead. 

Having won both the sprint race and the Grand Prix, Perez described his weekend as “perfect” and praised the team for their efforts and execution on race day. 

“It has been an unbelievable weekend, I am super pleased and I cannot say more about the Team, it has been a tremendous day for us and I am so proud of everyone. I want to say a big thanks to Thibaut, he is one of my mechanics who is at home for personal reasons, but he is still a very big part of our Team.

“The Team enjoy calling me the King of the Streets, I am super happy for them all. They have been tremendous all weekend, from the sprint race yesterday through to the way we executed the race today, it was perfect.”

Perez earned thirty-three points through his weekend in Baku and currently sits six points behind championship leader Verstappen four races into the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season. He has his sights set on championship contention and said that he is focused on getting the most out of the coming races. 

“I think today we were the fastest car on track and regardless of the safety car we would have won the race. I am definitely in the fight for the title, not just because of Baku, I believe I can be very good anywhere this season and now I am just thinking of Miami. There are a lot of races coming up and we must make sure we are on it.”

“Overall it was quite a good race” – Max Verstappen

Following the safety car that allowed Perez to take the lead, Verstappen said that he spent the rest of the race pushing to the limit in pursuit of his team-mate– even scraping the walls of the infamously unforgiving circuit along the way. 

“Overall it was quite a good race. Of course, I was a bit unlucky with the safety car call, but I think in that second stint both of us were pushing flat out. We used every centimetre on that track and touched a few walls!”

Verstappen ended up crossing the line in second, securing Red Bull’s third one-two finish of the season. He said that the team leaves Baku with valuable knowledge and an “ideal” result as they turn their focus to the Miami Grand Prix

“It was a good Team result and there were a lot of learnings from this weekend to take forward to the rest of the season. We bought it home and a 1-2 for the Team was ideal, Checo had a great race and did very well today. I’m already looking forward to Miami and seeing what we can do there.”

After losing out strategy-wise on race day and struggling with damage to his side-pod caused by his incident with George Russell during the sprint, Verstappen will be hoping for a clean campaign in Miami to tighten his hold on the championship lead.  

Credit: Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool