Perez in two minds about "crucial" Hamilton defence

Red Bull Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez says he was happy to help Max Verstappen win the 2021 world title with a "crucial" defence against Lewis Hamilton, but admitted it was "not a place I wanted to be in".

After Verstappen and Hamilton made their first pitstop in a gripping Abu Dhabi Grand Prix title showdown, Perez was put on "Plan B" by Red Bull, which meant he was asked to stay out on worn soft tyres to try and hold off Hamilton and let Verstappen close a seven second gap.

Hamilton used the DRS to pull alongside Perez on the run down to Turn 6 on lap 20, but Perez immediately cut back across and kept the Mercedes driver at bay for a full lap, before he had to let him go in the same corner on Lap 21.

Perez's fierce defence drew praise from Verstappen, who called him "a legend" as it allowed him to cut the gap to Hamilton to just two seconds.

After Verstappen grabbed the F1 title in a controversial final lap shoot-out, Perez said he was happy to play his part for the team but also admitted he didn't want to interfere too much in the title fight.

"It was crucial at that time of the race, because I knew that basically, Lewis had the race under control, he had the virtual and safety car windows pretty much open and he could have done whatever he wanted at the time," Perez said.

"He had the race under control, so it was pretty critical. But at the same time I was on extremely old tyres. It worked well. At the end of the day, I'm happy that I've helped Max and the team.

"It's a hard one because at the same time, you don't want to interfere too much in the drivers' championship. But I think above anything, it will always be my team."

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

When asked by Motorsport.com if he was worried about getting his aggressive Hamilton defence wrong and potentially decide the championship with a collision, Perez said that did play on his mind.

"Yeah, at the same time," he admitted. "But obviously, I was in a position where I had not much to lose. It's not a place that you want to be in but at the same time I will always put my team above anything.

"It was a gamble because at that point you are just a piece of cake basically when you are after 18, 19 laps on the soft tyres and Lewis was on fresh rubber.

"Getting him back out of Turn 6 was the key to it. As I said, I'm just happy that it worked out because I could have cost him half a second at the time, but I'm just happy that I cost him a bit longer."

Read Also:

Perez retired from the race with three laps to go under the late, race deciding safety car because Red Bull was worried his Honda engine was about to expire.

That could have caused the safety car to stay out another lap and prevent Verstappen from overtaking Hamilton for the title.

"I didn't know anything at the time but obviously, the engine was on the limit," he added.

"And the last thing we wanted to have is a failure and then not have the opportunity for Max to have that lap. It was on the limit, and you don't want to engine blow up."

When put to him that Verstappen called him a legend, Perez responded: "Well he's the legend now, he's a world champion..."

shares
comments

Related video

What Formula 1's safety car restart rules say
Previous article

What Formula 1's safety car restart rules say

Next article

Mercedes protest against Verstappen overtaking under SC dismissed

Mercedes protest against Verstappen overtaking under SC dismissed
Load comments
The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins Prime

The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, We pick out six other key elements to follow this season

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1 Prime

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades.

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022