Perez rues timing of Safety Car

Seeking to convert his pole position into a second win for Red Bull, Sergio Perez’ Saudi efforts were thwarted by the unlucky timing of the Safety Car.

In much the same way that Nicholas Latifi’s crash in Abu Dhabi was to change the course of the race, three months later the Canadian was at it again, this time to the detriment of a Red Bull driver.

The first of the leaders to pit – indeed only the fourth driver overall to stop, Sergio Perez dived into the pits on lap 15 whilst leading the race.

The Mexican had been tricked into pitting by Ferrari, who had told (second-placed) Charles Leclerc to “box” only for the Monegasque to remain on track whilst the Red Bull driver dived into the pitlane to cover the move.

Rejoining the race in fifth, behind Russell, Perez’s hopes of regaining the lead were almost instantly dashed when Latifi crashed at the final corner.

Yellow flags led to the VSC and then the deployment of the Safety Car, thereby allowing Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz a ‘free’ stop.

Though the Mexican passed the second Ferrari at the restart he was subsequently forced to hand back the position after it was deemed he had made the move before the Safety Car Line.

“It was just a big shame,” said Perez. “You know, we had a good start… basically after the first stop, everything felt under control. We had a good first long stint, and then we had the issue with the Safety Car, which really ruined our race weekend. There was nothing else I could really do.

“We had the undercut and the margin that we were looking for, we got it, and things were looking really good,” he added, “but unfortunately Latifi put it in the wall at the wrong time for me.

“This is racing,” he sighed. “It will come around for us one day but it hurts because we did everything we possibly could do win this race from pole.”

Asked about his move on Sainz, he said: “I was told to give the place back, so I gave it back. I felt that was fair enough.”

Referring to the yellows that followed the late incident involving the other Williams driver, he added: “After the virtual safety car I think I picked up a bit of speed, I came close, but then there was the yellow flags on the finals laps so I had to slow down and I couldn’t do much more.”

However, the Mexican agreed it wasn’t all bad.

“Yesterday putting it on pole, today having the race pace in place, and obviously Max’s win is a great boost for the team,” he said.

“You know, we got the pole yesterday, we’ve got the win today, so although I’m very frustrated today, I take the positive as a team, we did a fantastic job and I’m very pleased for everyone.”

Check out our Sunday gallery from Jeddah, here.

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