Sergio Perez believes his fourth-place finish in at the 2023 United States Grand Prix has given him renewed confidence after a poor patch of form as he was back among the top three in the Brazilian GP Sprint Race.
After retiring on Lap 1 of the Mexico City GP, Perez needed a good result, not least with Lewis Hamilton only 20 points behind the Mexican in their fight for second in the drivers’ championship.
A poorly timed yellow flag caused by Oscar Piastri going wide at Turn 12 ruined Perez’s final hot and leaving him down in ninth on the grid for Sunday’s Brazilian GP.
But Perez was undeterred and bounced back from a disappointing Qualifying to finish third in the Sprint Race behind Lando Norris and teammate Max Verstappen, who won his third Sprint of 2023.
“Well, I think from Austin onwards, we’ve been a lot better than we’ve shown on pace”, explained Perez to the press.
“But for some reason or another, we haven’t been able to put it all together. I think in Mexico, we were also strong, and obviously, here, it’s been a good solid day with the morning.
“We were very unlucky with the Q3 conditions and getting the yellow flag at the end, but other than that, I think it’s been a good pace.”
Early overtakes made the latter part of race difficult
Starting from third in Saturday’s Sprint, Perez had a poor launch off the line, losing two positions to the Mercedes of George Russell and Hamilton.
Perez then initially got back past Hamilton for fourth on Lap 4, but the Brit initially got back alongside into Turn 4 only to relinquish the position to the Mexican.
Next on Perez’s target list was Russell, and by Lap 8, he had initially got past the Brit into Turn 1, only for the Mercedes to inch on the exit of Turn 4 to retain third spot.
Two laps later, on Lap 10, Perez made the move stick, moving past Russell for third, but playing catch-up hurt his tyres, and he could not challenge Verstappen or Norris for the win.
“At that time, there was a race, but that point when the guys on the lead were looking after the tyres, I was sliding around fighting with Lewis with George,” added Perez.
“I ended up paying the price later on in the race. I had quite a bad start and poor first lap in general, losing another place to Lewis into Turn 4.
I had to use much more of my tyres than I wanted to do. You [feel] a lot of degradation as we saw today. Everyone will learn from the race today.
“Generally, it’s a race where if you are closing the DRS zone [and] have good traction out of the last corner, then everything’s possible.”