Perez: ‘Not much risk worth taking’ in F1 sprint races

Sergio Perez is unchanged in his opposition to Formula 1 sprint races after the final trial of the format in 2021 at Interlagos, saying there’s "not a lot of action".

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, on the grid with an engineer

Red Bull driver Perez finished fourth in the 24-lap sprint race ahead of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, narrowly losing out to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr in the fight for third place.

Perez was passed off the line by Sainz, who started on soft tyres. Despite closing on the Spaniard in the final stages as his mediums showed better pace, Perez was unable to get ahead.

The third and final sprint of the season offered the most on-track action yet, highlighted by Lewis Hamilton, who charged from 20th on the grid to finish fifth.

But having previously expressed his scepticism about the format at Silverstone and Monza, Perez said he was unchanged in his view on F1 sprint races. 

“I don’t think they’re great fun,” Perez said.

“I think they’re mainly done for the fans, so if they enjoy them, then good. But I don’t particularly enjoy them.

“I just feel there is not a lot of action. There is not a lot of overtaking, or it doesn’t change as much, the things going into tomorrow’s race, which is the main one.

“You cannot take too many risks because you can be heavily affected trying to pass people. It’s not like the actual race.

"You hardly gain anything, but you can lose a lot.”

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Perez felt there were “more risks I could have taken” when he was chasing Sainz for third place, having lurked close behind the Ferrari on a number of occasions.

It means Perez will start Sunday’s race from fourth, two places behind team-mate Max Verstappen, as Red Bull looks to reclaim the lead of the constructors’ championship. It sits two points behind Mercedes following Valtteri Bottas’s sprint race win.

“Obviously I can be a bit more aggressive, [take] more risk,” Perez said. “I really hope I can overtake Carlos and go with the leaders.”

Hamilton fought back to fifth place after being excluded from qualifying over a technical infringement with the DRS on his Mercedes car, crossing the line just 1.1 seconds behind Perez.

“I was pretty surprised to see the progress he made, he had tremendous pace,” Perez said.

“Lewis has a tremendous straight line speed. I’ve seen some of the moves he’s done, like the one on [Lando] Norris, it’s really impressive to see how far behind he is.”

Perez tipped Hamilton to become a threat in the grand prix on Sunday as well despite facing a five-place grid penalty that means he will start 10th.

“I think he will come through, sooner or later,” Perez said.

“He will be in the mix for tomorrow’s race.”

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