Perez “had the race under control” until “bad luck” with Safety Car

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez said “bad luck” with the timing of the Safety Car cost him a likely win in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver led the race from pole position until his pit stop on lap 14. Those running behind him were yet to pit at that point, and when the Safety Car came out soon afterwards it allowed them to pit and emerge in front of the former race leader.

“Just bad luck, bad timing,” said Perez. “I felt I had the race pretty much under control and [then] came this incident from Latifi and basically it hurt me.

“It just came at the wrong point of the race for me. As a driver, there is nothing you could do. We have everything in place, plenty of margin for the undercut and unfortunately we couldn’t execute what what we should today.”

Having taken the first pole position of his career on Saturday, Perez felt there was not much more he could have done better despite ending the race in fourth place.

“I think we did everything throughout the weekend perfectly,” he said. “At the end behind Carlos, I think the car wasn’t as good as it was on the first stint.

“We did some adjustment going on to the hard compound, which probably hurt us a bit. And then, at the end, it was catching him up. Unfortunately we had the yellow flag and then he pulled away.”

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in pictures
The television coverage of the race gave the impression the timing of Perez’s pit stop was a reaction to Ferrari’s call for Charles Leclerc behind him to come in. However Perez said “I don’t think it was an early stop. I think they would have to have stopped a lap earlier. So I think it was the right lap to box.”

An early switch from medium to hard tyres was a logical strategy, he added. “The hards can go forever, so it was just about getting out of that medium tyre. It wasn’t early.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the team brought Perez in when they intended to.

“We pitted on the lap that we discussed pre-race,” he said. “And then, bang, a Safety Car. And as we know with Safety Cars, sometimes they work for you, sometimes they work against you. And it was very unlucky for him today.”

“Desperately disappointing for Checo because what an incredible lap yesterday to get that pole,” Horner added. “He then converted that into the lead. He was controlling the race beautifully.”

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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20 comments on “Perez “had the race under control” until “bad luck” with Safety Car”

  1. You’d have to be a bi of a monster to not feel some sympathy for Checo. Very unlucky timing for him in what has otherwise been a solid weekend.

  2. It was a great weekend for him nonetheless. You don’t beat Max in qualy here of all places that easily…

  3. Is that 3 in a row for Latifi? He needs to stay on the track more …

    1. He will finish in Paul Ricard… ;-)

    2. RandomMallard
      27th March 2022, 23:51

      I don’t quite know where you got 3 in a row from. He finished in Bahrain. Slow, but roughly where you’d expect that Williams car to be realistically (16th out of 17 runners)

      1. Sorry, it was probably in practice or qualifying. I just feel like I’m always seeing that car sliding off the track … I really wanted Perez to win this one, but perhaps next time.

    3. Without mazepin on the grid, latifi is looking pretty terrible once more. How many other great drivers deserve his seat? An age old question obviously, but it’s pretty stark when you see him bouncing off the walls ever week

  4. Perez was forced to pit by Ferrari. The SC was very unfortunate for him, as it vaporized his chances to fight for the race win. And finally he was only inches late on Sainz at pit exit.

    But times will change. His driving and the RBR performance should get him some champagne throughout this year.

  5. Very unlucky, he looked like he had it under control – should have been his win I feel.

  6. As usual Ferrari were predictable with their radio messages. The call “Box to overtake” was a clear indication to Charles to pit opposite of Checo. Villeneuve on Canal+ predicted that straightaway after the message was broadcasted. On the other hand Checo was extremely unlucky with the SC and I would say the strategy too. He went out of the pit just behind George Russel and lost nearly a second sector one alone. Leclerc could have got him with the overcut anyway.

  7. Absolutely Gutted for Checo. 🤦‍♂️

  8. I don’t think Checo had the pace. Charles was closing in on him and would have come out ahead of him (but on colder tyres) after his pitstop without the safety car.

    1. @proesterchen I thought Leclerc looked good to pass Perez and win the race too.

    2. Thing is. I think there is still a benefit to being out in front on clean air. If Checo had kept his position and Max was attacking from behind Charles like he did anyway… It might have ended a Red Bull 1-2. It was extremely unfortunate timing for the safety car.

      I was gutted to see him lose through no fault of his own, but if he can keep replicating his Saturday performances this year, he will win races I have no doubt.

  9. I’m fairly confident that if he didn’t come out behind russel and there was no safety car, he would’ve won it.
    Leclerc would have been too preoccupied with max later on the race to mount an attack

  10. Yes, very unlucky for Checo, I would have liked to see him defend his position until the end, I think we will see him later in the championship, …I hope.

  11. He was very unlucky with the VSC but I don’t think he had the race under control. After his stop he was behind Russell so not in clear air to push his out lap. I think it would have been close with Leclerc after his pit stop. The big question is if RB would have let Perez race with Verstappen like Alonso and Occon

  12. I don’t think Perez had control of the race. I also think, in any circumstances, Rbr would not let him win the race anyway unless a Ferrari between him and Max existed. This end may be less heartbreaker to him than the team orders.

    1. People talk about Stroll but Latifi isn’t half the driver Stroll is. That crash looked so embarrassingly silly, worthy of a complete amateur.

      This guy have a serious case to be the worst driver of the grid.

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