Sergio Perez says the error his team made under the Safety Car at Imola is the reason they opted to keep him out in Bahrain.
Perez took his first ever win in Formula 1 in dramatic fashion, staying out under the late Safety Car and therefore ending up in the lead after Mercedes’ pit-stop nightmare.
It was the opposite to what Racing Point had him do earlier this year in Imola when he was called in under the SC and lost out on a podium, and he says both he and the team thought back to that moment when deciding to keep him out on track in Bahrain.
“I think obviously after what happened in Imola when we did the wrong choice, pitting under the Safety Car, we were clear what we wanted to do here,” he said after the race.
“We were obviously staying out [during the Lap 61 Safety Car] and we were pretty confident I was going to be able to restart those tyres and to go to the end with good pace.”
Perez ended up winning comfortably after George Russell picked up a puncture while chasing him down. However, the Mexican thinks that, even if the Brit hadn’t, he would still have won.
“I think with George it was going to be close but I think I was going to be able to hold him back because we had good pace,” Checo added.
“He was about two to three-tenths, sometimes four-tenths, sometimes I was matching him. I think the closest he got was 2.8secs. The information we had as a team was that you needed a difference of eight-tenths of a lap to be able to overtake.
“It was going to be close, but I think given the age of my tyres, given the pace I had towards the end, the pace I had in hand, I was going to be able to hold him back to the end.”
In the aftermath of his win, the calls were stronger than ever for Red Bull to give Perez a seat for next season instead of Alex Albon.
Nevertheless, he still is not optimistic about his chance of getting it, but does say he already has options on the table for 2022.
Asked if he is expecting a Red Bull call-up, he told Sky F1: “No, I don’t think [so] to be honest. My picture is getting clearer.
“If I am not on the grid next year, I already have options to come back in 2022. So I am at peace with myself.
“If I have to leave here, I am more than committed to doing so. But then I am more determined than ever to be back for 2022.
“This is because I believe this is the place I need to be. I’m only 30 years old, so I’ve got my best years ahead of me and I’m determined to come back strong.”