Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Perez almost quit when car died on formation lap

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez has revealed he nearly gave up hope of starting the Bahrain Grand Prix when his car stopped on the formation lap.

In a remarkable change of fortune the Red Bull driver was able to restart his car, begin the race from the pit lane, and salvage a fifth place finish on his debut for the team.

Red Bull had already changed the energy store and electrics in Perez’s power unit earlier in the day after Honda identified a potential problem while inspecting data from his car.

Despite those precautions, Perez’s Red Bull stopped on the straight leading to the final corner on the formation lap.

“In the middle of the corner, everything just shut down,” Perez explained. He said he had “no idea” what caused the stoppage, and was about to give up hope of starting the race when the team’s sporting director Jonathan Wheatley came on his radio.

“I was about to jump out of the car and all of a sudden I start to [hear] Jonathan. I just turned on the car and it kept going,” said Perez.

“It was [hard] getting the ignition back. I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t hear the engineers, and then it went back so that was good.”

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An early Safety Car helped Perez catch up to the field, switch his used medium tyres for a second set after five laps, and start his charge up the order. He briefly held third as those around him pitted, then for his final stint on mediums worked his way from eighth to fifth.

He was relieved to complete a race which at one stage he appeared unlikely to start.

“I was pleased just by the fact that we managed to get those kilometres under my belt,” he said. “Yesterday missing Q3 really delayed our progression because through qualifying we can see that things are starting to click better. It’s a real shame that I didn’t maximise yesterday, but I think today things are starting to click a bit more lap by lap.”

Perez’s fastest lap in the race was second only to team mate Max Verstappen, until Valtteri Bottas made a late pit stop for fresh tyres and set the quickest lap of the day. The Red Bull newcomer was encouraged by the pace he showed.

“I think that’s a positive bit, that the race pace is strong. But it’s just so many things that are still clicking. I think at the moment everything comes together, we’re going to be pretty strong, but we just have to be solid and get the pace done properly. And then it should be pretty good.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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22 comments on “Perez almost quit when car died on formation lap”

  1. I was sure of a DNS but good that he managed to restart the car and eventually finish as high as P5. The good thing about not driving a Mercedes, Mclaren, AM, or Williams.

  2. So tech question! How was he able to restart the car?! From what I am able to know these cars do not have onboard starters right ? So an external starter starts the engine before they go out of the pits… Am I wrong here ? Did anything change during the turbo era??

    Reply moderated
    1. I think, not 100% sure though, they battery can be used to spin up something (the turbo or the hybrid motors for the rear wheels?), which then can fire the motor up, but i imagine its not ideal for a lot of the components to have to do it, so they use the starters instead if they can

      Reply moderated
    2. That used to be the case, but the hybrids can be started using the internal battery much in the same way a road car is started.

    3. The MGU-K is an incredibly powerful exceptionally well engineered starter motor.

      Reply moderated
  3. Driver of the day without a doubt. I do believe he has what it takes to be at least Max’s wingman and would easily out drive Bottas in the battle of the number 2’s. Quali was a bad strategy call (team?) Race start was pure bad luck. What a recovery drive. Different league to Albon…

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      29th March 2021, 9:49

      Perez did not blame the team for qualifying. He said it was inexperience with the car. Still, it was poor as 9 drivers in slower cars beat him.A few had faster tyres, but not many. Given the margin verstappen got pole on the same tyres, Perez should have managed to get through easily…

      There isn’t much to suggest based on this race that Perez is better than Bottas. Bottas had pretty much the same pace as Hamilton the whole race. That recovery drive was to be expected in the top car and P4 should have been possible. It was bad luck that he had that issue, but the following safety car allowed him to pit for fresh tyres and brought and then it was only 18th and just 7 places to get back to where he qualified with a bunched up field. Most of the cars were significently slower than him.

      One reason that I say this recovery wasn’t that impressive, especially as you are comparing him to bottas was that Bottas recovered from P20 to less than a second off the podium in Abu Dhabi 2019.Abu dhabi is significently harder to overtake on (about the worst track of the year), the mercedes is worse in traffic than the Red Bull and there was a DRS failure for a large chunk of the race. Perez had the disadvantage of being new to the team, but given the advantages of the track and car, he should have managed P4. His recovery should have been expected. The fact that he got the official driver of the day is somewhat silly IMO. All Bottas or Hamilton needed to do when they had the best car was qualify very badly at a good overtaking track and then not even recovering to a podium. Would that then be a concidered a great drive?

      Perez simply had a decent recovery from a poor qualifying. It is unlikely that starting at the back made a huge difference compared to P11 in the best car. Especially given tha gap between p5 and P3 and that Bottas pitted again.

      To me, that was’t an ideal start for Perez.

      1. Mercedes in Abu Dhabi in 19 was a monster much faster then everyone else at that race.
        Not comparable to the race yesterday Perez had a great car but not as dominant as the Mercedes in that race (if I remember it Bottas had a new engine that race).
        It was a good race by Perez

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          29th March 2021, 18:29

          I am comparing it to this track because abu dhabi is so much harder to overtake on and DRS was also disabled for a large chunk of the race. That makes the situation pretty comparable to be honest.

      2. 2019 Mercedes was pretty much unbeteable. And midfield cars were not as competitive as they are now.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          29th March 2021, 18:42

          In the one race we’ve had this year, Red bull and Mercedes are close, but on race day, the rest were close to each other but nowhere near these two. Bottas had bad luck and was already 15 seconds behind Hamilton before he pitted for FLAP, but nearly 30 seconds ahead of Norris! To be realistic, the gap to the next best car will have been around 40 seconds. Red Bull and Mercedes were a HUGE step ahead of the others on race day. This is why I think perez should have been able to get P4 myself. The ease of overtaking here will have been easier especially as DRS was working compared to Bottas in abu dhabi 2019 which is why i used it as a reference.

      3. @thegianthogweed Not raise-the-flag amazing, but still very strong. Many would have fluffed the car reset and been a lap down straight away, I’m sure. (we’ve heard on the radio before people are not sure when the engineer tells them a single setting) Then he got on with it without making mistakes as you knew he would, and not many would have recovered more.

  4. Especially after having his car die on him at the second race in a row (he got how many laps, 12 in Abu Dhabi 2020?) must have really been a sinking feeling for Perez.

    Glad he got the car going, it was really good to see him getting back through the field.

  5. When the car stopped I thought that was the end for Pérez, …but when the car started, I thought, “he is going to win the race” LOL, no, but I did think that if he managed to find his race pace he could reach 7 ° – 6 °, but in the end after his last tire change his pace was great.

    This gives us a little taste of what we can expect from Pérez beyond the middle of the season, I think Checo is going to bring some joy to RBR, and to the fans.

    Good for Checo, he had an extraordinary race.

    1. Just imagine if Red Bull had been more sensible and just given Perez a set of softs to get through to Q3. He would surely have been ahead of Leclerc, Norris and Ricciardo from the start. And they showed that you could do well enough even starting with softs. @luis.

      I am glad Perez got the chance to make a solid comeback from the setbacks. I do hope his season now gets onto a more supple flow from now on.

      1. Peoblem was Checco wanted to use the yellow tyre too otherwise he would made it.

  6. glad he got it going again and ended up having a strong race, definitely would’ve been at least 4th without that issue. i think he will be the second driver red bull have been looking for, just need to get some top 5s consistently in qualifying, then should be able to show his race pace from there.

  7. Massive drive by Perez!! 👏👏. Fun to watch.

  8. Cristiano Ferreira
    29th March 2021, 3:23

    Perez did a stellar job in his first race for Red Bull, one that was difficult because all the problems he had.

    Most important is the fact that he was not stuck behind slower cars, unlike his predecessors. I still don’t know if he can challenge Bottas but i expect he is capable of that and i hope he wins the “wingman battle” against his rival.

  9. I was puzzled that Perez didnt try longer stints having good pace, didnt play the tire whisperer moto, 20 laps on Mediums, 20 something laps on Hards and ended on Mediums. I don’t have telemetry but i tought that he could pull 20 something laps on those Mediums and go on Hards to the flag.

    1. I thought about that too, But 1 position=2points wasn’ t worth the risk of ending the race with hard degraded tyres. On this hypotethical strategy he wouldn’t be able to overtake as easy.
      All in all I think it wasn’t worth the risk.

  10. SwimCoachPhil
    29th March 2021, 23:50

    Question – Didn’t Perez complete one less lap than the rest of the field? Car died on formation lap, he goes to pit lane. All the other cars have to drive another formation lap. Did he sit at the end of pit road during time, or did he do that lap as well?

    Reply moderated

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