Sergio Perez says fighting Max Verstappen any harder would have led to contact after being overtaken by his teammate late on in the Miami Grand Prix.
Verstappen climbed through the field from ninth on the grid to lead for a long spell before his pit stop, emerging behind Perez heading into the final ten laps. Having quickly closed in, Verstappen attacked around the outside of Turn 17 but Perez resisted, before the championship leader used DRS to get alongside and complete the move around the exit of Turn 1.
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“Obviously at the end of the day we have to put the team ahead of us,” Perez said. “We are two drivers but there are so many people back home working really hard, so we have to stay respectful and at the end we had a really good fight between us and a bit more would have been contact, and I don’t think that would have been fair for any of us. Only for Fernando (Alonso).”
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Perez was magnanimous in defeat after a tough weekend despite starting on pole position, saying strategy played against him but that Verstappen was simply quicker.
“It started well but very early on I saw that the medium was very fragile initially, so I had to protect the tire quite a lot just to make lap 15 or so, so it was really hard to lean on that tire. Basically the whole right hand side was really difficult and I could see that Max was closing up on the hards and from that point on I knew the race was looking difficult.
“Then when I went onto the hard Max had a very strong pace, so we didn’t manage to open a gap, so he simply came too close to us. We had a bit of a fight on track which was quite clean — to the limit but clean — and obviously putting the team in front of us. A great team result but today Max deserved the victory because he was the strongest car out there.
“I wasn’t able to look after the (medium tire) properly. I don’t know how different the race for Max would have looked if he was on the same strategy as myself, but he was clearly the fastest car out there. I have to understand what went wrong today and it’s pretty simple — when you don’t have the race pace it’s pretty hard to win the race, so well done to Max today.”