Sergio Perez delivered another tyre management masterclass to finish in a superb 2nd place at the Turkish Grand Prix.
Starting P3, he jumped the slow starting Max Verstappen off the line and slotted into P2. Initially on the full wets, Lance Stroll drove away before Checo gradually started to close the gap ahead of the first stops.
Perez made his one and only stop on lap 10 to put on the intermediates and maintained his position. Incredibly, he managed to get those tyres to the end as he showed superior tyre conservation to his teammate; he caught right up to Stroll before the Canadian boxed for a second time.
The Mexican just about fended off the Ferraris and Sainz at the end as he tyres were completely finished at the end. It’s the ninth podium of his career.
In his post-race interview, Perez said: “I told my team on the radio ‘I think one more lap on those tyres and I think they would have exploded.’ The vibrations were extremely bad towards the end. But I think it also made our race, because looking after them in the beginning and towards the end with drying conditions.
“I think the team did a fantastic job in terms of strategy in the race. We’ve come close to a podium several times this year, so it’s great to enjoy the moment now with the team.”
Perez had issues with visibility throughout the Grand Prix and couldn’t see anyone behind him as he mirrors fogged up. Nonetheless, he fended off Max Verstappen on lap 18 as the Dutchman spun whilst attempting to pass him for 2nd place.
He also had a last lap tussle with Charles Leclerc for the second spot on the podium. Leclerc, who was on 20-lap fresher intermediate tyres, had overtaken him on the exit of T10, but a lock-up heading into T12 opened the door for Checo to take the position back.
“With Max [Verstappen] I couldn’t see anything on my mirrors, my mirrors were full of fog so my engineer was basically telling me the gaps and so on. And then all of a sudden I saw Max running wide and he disappeared.
“And then the other one was with Charles [Leclerc]. I wasn’t aware that he was so close to me, so in the final lap it was a pretty good battle with him. He overtook me into turn 9 and then I overtook him back into 11. It was a chaotic race but a strong result for us.”
Racing Point were 1-2 for more than half of the race, but ultimately the Mercedes of Hamilton was too quick for the Mexican to hold off.
“Lewis [Hamilton] was on another level today and, once he got by me, he controlled the race. So, second was the best we could achieve and we did a great job to keep the Red Bulls and Ferraris behind.”
Perez is still without a seat for 2021 but is focusing on continuing to perform well to give himself the best possible chance to stay on the grid next year.
“I think as always, you have to be delivering weekend after weekend. You are as good as your last race so it’s important to finish on a high, and the rest is out of my hands.”