Sergio Perez was crowned Driver of the Day of a chaotic 2023 Australian Grand Prix, after recovering from a pit lane start to finish fifth with the fastest lap.
Perez navigated a controversial end to the grand prix to finish fifth, meaning though Max Verstappen won the race he only drops 14 points in the world championship race.
Perez looked like he’d lost it all at the end of the race but was saved by a third red flag of the day.
How did Perez recover in the Australian Grand Prix?
Perez ran into a gravel trap in qualifying before he’d put a time on the board so started from the pitlane alongside Valtteri Bottas, with teammate Verstappen on pole position.
Both Mercedes jumped Verstappen at the start of the race led by George Russell, but he was undone by a controversial red flag for gravel on the track.
Russell had pitted moments before the red flag was thrown and so dropped down the order, while Carlos Sainz dropped to eleventh because of the move.
Verstappen was able to pass Hamilton shortly after the restart and looked to be cruising to victory whilst Alonso settled into a race-long pursuit of Hamilton in the battle for second.
Meanwhile, Perez worked his way through the field exploiting the four DRS zones and Red Bull’s outstanding pace, particularly in a straight line.
The last two laps took nearly an hour to complete in a farcical look for the sport. A red flag was thrown for debris on the track to avoid a finish under the safety car, and chaos reigned at the restart with Sainz tagging third-placed Alonso and the two Alpines taking each other out, all officially on lap 57.
The order was reset to before the red flag restart, but Sainz was given a five-second penalty that crippled the Spaniard’s result, but that alongside the Alpine downfall enabled Perez to jump a further three places in the final laps despite no official competitive running.
Perez had actually run off at turn one and dropped out of the points positions but the reset meant he kept his competitive finish.