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Formula 1 Dutch GP

Perez: Tyre saving call behind Verstappen pace deficit in F1 Dutch GP

Sergio Perez reckons Red Bull needing him to save his intermediate tyres is why Formula 1 team-mate Max Verstappen could cut his early 2023 Dutch Grand Prix lead in half.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

A rain shower hit Zandvoort on the opening lap of the race and seventh-starting Perez reacted fastest by pitting at the first opportunity to ditch soft Pirellis for intermediates.

As the majority of the grid then stopped one tour later, the Mexican emerged with a 10.4 second advantage over George Russell as Verstappen fell to 14.246s behind come the fourth lap.

Eventual race winner Verstappen then started running up to 4s faster than Perez to bring the gap down to 4s before the two-time champion pitted on lap 11 to gain the undercut and subsequently the lead.

Perez reckons this significant pace differential was largely down to a need to save his intermediate tyres on a drying track as Red Bull warned that more rain was on the way.

Asked by Autosport to explain the delta, Perez said: “We were expecting rain, the team was telling me that there was more rain coming.

“The track was on the dry side, so if I were to push, I would just have destroyed completely the inter tyre.”

Had rain arrived as anticipated, Perez reckoned he could have held onto first place for longer.

He later spun out of second when heavy rain hit in the closing stages, costing him second to Fernando Alonso.

After a 5s penalty for pitlane speeding, thought to have been incurred when he came in to switch to full wet tyres moments before the red flags were waved, Perez dropped from third at the flag to fourth behind Alpine racer Pierre Gasly.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, makes a pit stop

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, makes a pit stop

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Perez continued: “[The inters] were super, super quick, so well done for the team on that [early pitstop].

“Unfortunately, we didn't get right that there was more rain coming on the inter, otherwise we could have pushed more on that first stint. Probably keep the lead for longer…

“It was chaos [at the race start], just changing a lot and, unfortunately, our great call in the beginning turned out to be not so great in the end.

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“It's a shame that we end up losing the podium because I feel like we really deserve it today.”

Perez responded to Verstappen’s undercut by ditching his intermediates and stopping on lap 12. He returned to the track 3.5s behind his team-mate.

Reviewing losing track position due to the split strategy, Perez said: “I think that on those scenarios the team just have more information than we do at the time.

“So, it's something we obviously will review during the meeting, and I'm sure there's a reason behind it.”

 

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