Yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix was a memorable one for Mexico as Sergio Perez secured the third win of his career. The victory now makes him the most successful Mexican F1 driver in history, one ahead of the late, great Pedro Rodriguez.
With help from Ferrari’s mistakes on their pit wall, Red Bull and Perez seized the opportunity to take the glory from under the nose of Leclerc and Sainz.
Sitting in P3, Perez boxed for inters at the end of lap 16 as the track started to dry out following torrential rain earlier in the afternoon that caused a delay to the start of the race.
Ferrari tried to respond with Leclerc two laps later, but the damage had already been done by Checo as the wets were seconds slower by that stage.
Sainz stayed on extreme wets until it was time for slicks, coming in at the end of lap 21.
However, a superb in-lap from Perez on his warm inters versus Sainz on an out-lap trying to get heat in his hard tyres [and trying to clear traffic] saw the Mexican overcut the Spaniard when he boxed a lap later.
From there, he resisted fierce pressure from the Ferrari to take a legendary victory.
Un sueño hecho realidad, tantos años soñando con esta victoria y hoy llegó. A celebrar México 🇲🇽 los llevo a todos en el corazón. Excelente trabajo @redbullracing 💪#monacogp pic.twitter.com/sT8UVQb1S6— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) May 29, 2022
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was full of praise for the race winner, especially for the work he did during the inters stint.
"Checo, his performance on the in-lap, on his out-lap... particularly on the inter tyres was stunning, and then likewise on the slicks. Then obviously he had to manage the race to the end.”
Sitting just 15 points off championship leader and teammate Max Verstappen, Perez is a legitimate title contender and his team boss is sure Checo's current level of performance is his best since he joined F1 eleven years ago.
The relationship between Perez and Verstappen has been strong ever since the Mexican join the team. Horner makes it clear it needs to stay that way in their fight with Ferrari.
"Checo's in the form of his career. He's doing a great job, and it's not a one-off. We saw his pole position in Jeddah. He's really hitting a rich vein of form. That's fantastic for us.
"But we need both drivers working the way they are together because Ferrari had the quicker car, certainly in qualifying. Whether it was in the race is unknown.
"They're a massive opponent and we've got to work collectively to make sure that we get both drivers ahead of them."
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While the fans and drivers usually talk about the Drivers’ World Championship at the end of each season, the big money for the teams is on the Constructors’ side.
After the controversy of Spain, Horner says they’ve both got equal opportunities to fight for the title.
"It doesn't matter to us which of the two is the World Champion.
"Of course the Constructors' [Championship] is enormously important, but whether it's Max or Checo, they're both Red Bull drivers and they've both got the same chance.
"It's a long season and it will have its ebbs and flows, but it's great to have both drivers at the sharp end.”
When asked about Perez’s F1 record at this venue, Horner wasn’t surprised by Perez’s strong performance as the Mexican had driven for his GP2 [now Formula 2] team Arden in 2009.
In fact Checo won his first GP2 race on the Monte Carlo streets a year later. He also scored a podium with Force India six years ago in mixed conditions.
"He's always enjoyed this track, though. I remember when he drove for me in Formula 2 here, he's always been very strong around this circuit, and particularly the next one in Azerbaijan.
"He's in a great space at the moment. His confidence is high, he's driving very well and the time difference between him and Max is much closer [compared to 2021]."
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