Sergio Perez says he was “hurt” by a Virtual Safety Car late in the Hungarian Grand Prix, in which the Mexican missed out on the podium as George Russell hung on for P3 and Carlos Sainz took P4.
Perez started 11th having suffered a shock Q2 elimination on Saturday, but carved through the field with Red Bull team mate and eventual winner Max Verstappen, running as high as P3.
The Monaco winner executed a two-stop strategy, but explained that he originally planned to run a one-stopper and was hampered by a slower middle stint – before the late VSC slowed him in his chase of Sainz and Russell.
“I think in the middle of the race, we were looking good, we were thinking to go for the one-stop, so therefore I think we didn’t quite maximise that stint and unfortunately, that didn’t work out as good as we would have liked, and then at the end, I just lost out by a couple of seconds on Carlos and George,” he said.
“We were much faster, together with Charles [Leclerc], from behind but unfortunately there was a Virtual Safety Car for a bit too long and that just hurt us a bit.”
Sergio Pérez: Middle stint ‘didn’t work out’ for us in Hungary
Perez’s result means he’s now just five points behind Leclerc, who finished sixth in Hungary – but the Mexican said he needed to hit back after the summer break, starting at the Belgian Grand Prix later this month.
“A bit up and down,” he said of his season so far. “A couple of reliability issues, but other than that I think that there are some positives to take from this first half of this season.
“But I certainly believe that we’ve lost a bit our track in the last couple of races, so it will be very important to come back strong for the triple header.”
Team Principal Christian Horner concurred, adding: “I think a reset over the summer break, just to understand what’s not quite gone right for him in the last couple of races, [and] he’ll come back stronger from Spa onwards.”