Sergio Perez admitted it has felt like he has been on the verge of a podium for a while after overcoming an intense battle with Lewis Hamilton to finish third in the Turkish Grand Prix.
The Mexican has only finished on the podium twice so far this season, winning in Azerbaijan and then finishing third in the French Grand Prix. After a run of 16 points in six races, he duly added another 15 in Turkey alone but only after holding off Hamilton in a thrilling battle mid-way through the race.
“It was pretty intense at that point because Lewis really got me at the worst time of my race, because I was struggling so much with my tires at that point,” Perez said. “That first stint was so difficult for me, especially towards the end and Lewis was pretty fast. I think at the time he was the fastest car on track, so to hold him back at that point was pretty challenging.
“We had a good fight. I had to even avoid the pit bollard on pit entry, but it was a good fight overall, and managed to stay ahead.”
Perez also said the way he managed the first half of the race gave him the knowledge needed for the latter stages, when he stopped for fresh intermediates at the right time and overtook Charles Leclerc to secure third place.
“I think we were all very nervous about boxing for new tires, because of what happened last year,” Perez said. “I think it was the right call when we boxed, because I had the time to really introduce my tires and learn what went wrong on my first stint to try to apply it for my second stint, which really made my race. I think we took a good advantage on that second stint.”
Given his return prior to Turkey, Perez felt he should have had a number of podiums during his tough spell of results but was even more encouraged to do so on a weekend where he had to work so hard for it.
“Honestly, the last few races have been so unlucky,” he added. “In Monza, I finished on the podium but I had the penalty; Russia, three laps to go I was on the podium. It’s been coming already for many races but certainly it’s nice, especially where I felt so uncomfortable with the car and we didn’t have quite the pace to match the Mercs. I feel like we maximized our result and I’m sure if we are able to do that for the next six races, we can still win the championship.”