Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

“I’d have got him” – Perez certain he would have won in Baku without Safety Car

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez says he won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on “pure pace” and would have beaten his team mate even without the Safety Car period which aided his strategy.

Max Verstappen took the lead of the race early on while Perez moved up into second place. Perez took the lead by making his mandatory pit stop during a Safety Car period, while Verstappen lost time coming in earlier.

However Perez is confident he would have won the race even without the Safety Car playing in his favour. “Yes, I think I had the pace on Sunday in Baku to win the race,” he told media including RaceFans in Miami.

Perez closed on Verstappen shortly before the leader pitted, and suspects he would have been quick enough to overtake him later in the race. “Yes, I think so,” he said when asked.

“I think on that first stint on that lap if he wouldn’t have pitted, you never know, but I was quite close on the DRS but he was struggling already with the tyres. So I think I would have got him.”

He doesn’t believe Red Bull timed Verstappen’s pit stop to prevent the world champion being passed by his team mate on-track. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I think they pitted Max because they thought that he was struggling with his tyres.

“People behind were pitting so it was just a reaction to probably people behind doing the pit stops. So I think they want to make the best strategy for both cars as possible.”

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Later in the race Verstappen was advised how his team mate was managing his tyres. Perez said that showed he was able to get more out of the car on the day.

“Obviously when you when you win the race on pure pace, you’ve done better than your team mate,” he said. “I’m sure that Max and his team are going to have a look at that and make sure they understand.

“That’s why it’s important also from our side that we are able to understand those weaknesses.”

After the race Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed out Perez has only won on for them on street circuits so far. But Perez believes the gains he has made with Red Bull’s car this year will transfer to other tracks.

“In the street circuits you have to be very strong in the race, very strong with the pressure,” he said. “You have to be able to handle the pressure and you are not able to make mistakes. If you do small mistakes normally, in a normal circuit, you can get away with it. But in the streets, you cannot get away with those mistakes.

“I think probably I have more confidence than others come race day on the street races, I don’t know. But at the end of the day, the way I won in in Baku on pure pace, it doesn’t matter if it’s a street circuit or a permanent circuit. If I’m able to do that in Baku, I can do that anywhere.”

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On several occasions early last year Perez had to allow Verstappen to overtake him when ordered by the team. He is grateful Red Bull are allowing them to fight – for now.

“I do believe that the team will give me as much support as they do with Max and is what they’ve been doing since pretty much the start of season,” said Perez. “So I think we have to appreciate that a lot from Red Bull because it would be very easy for Red Bull to implement team orders from lap 20 and look after the cars and make sure we have very reliable cars and so on.

“But in Jeddah and in Baku we pushed flat-out throughout the race. In Baku we hit the wall a few times, both Red Bull drivers, and that was only because we were so much on the limit. It went right but it could easily be damage and we could easily have a problem.”

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20 comments on ““I’d have got him” – Perez certain he would have won in Baku without Safety Car”

  1. I’m still not buying it before I see him win a race weekend where nothing unlucky happens to Max. But I also have to say that Max seems weaker in sprint weekends than in regular weekends and we do have more of these this year.

    1. Good point about those sprint weekends @anunaki. I agree that while he might have had a good weekend, let’s not forget the weekend before was Australia where he messed up quite a bit.

      I would be happy to see Perez build on this confidence and really make it a bit of a challenge between the Red Bull drivers. But I think only a handful of Perez superfans will really believe it before he wins another 2-3 races or at least gets to regularly dice it out with Max.

      1. Yes, ofc, he surprised me this year but much like rosberg vs hamilton, he needs to be consistent to bring a serious challenge, else you end up with another 2015.

  2. Chris Horton
    5th May 2023, 9:07

    I agree, I feel he’d have won even without the safety car.

  3. Debatable. Possible, yes, but not necessarily a certainty.

    1. There’s no doubt Checo would have passed Max down the straight before he pitted. The RBR is no faster in a straight line than the Ferrari when neither have DRS, so an RBR with DRS holds the same advantage over an RBR without DRS as it does over a Ferrari without DRS. So Checo would have stormed passed Max thew same way Max did to Charles. As for the rest of the race, who knows what then might have happened, but Checo was doing better with his tyres than Max was before the pits stops and more than had the measure of Max after, so my money would have been a win for Checo either way.

      1. Yes, I think he could’ve won too and beating verstappen in the same team on performance is really something, even when it’s only a race.

      2. There’s no doubt Checo would have passed Max down the straight before he pitted.

        He was consistently faster, and Max had pretty much trashed his tyres trying to stay ahead.
        I suspect RBR as a team were lucky that Max was pitted when he was, because I think Max was in danger of having Checo pass him.
        That’s an event that Max almost certainly would not have entertained, and I’m pretty certain things wouldn’t have ended well.
        The real debate was whether either of the cars would have been in a condition to finish.

        1. I read the statement he had trashed his tires on the board a couple times now. But there are interviews with Verstappen after the race where he reflects and states that in hindsight he was saving too much in the first stint. That he should make a gap and use more of his tires. He added on this when asked about the pit timing. He said he wanted to review the procedure but also the call to pit, regardless of the De Vries shunt. He doesn’t want to be called in only because his times are slower, indicating he was saving there.

          Now this could all be BS to hide a lack of pace, true. But if Perez can keep up this pace that should be exposed soon enough. Personally I think it is situation specific. Shorter testing can mean one setup is better than the other. More test time will probably give more converging results. I’m not convinced yet Perez can keep this up though. But that might partially be because I don’t want to give myself false hope on a proper title fight this season….

    2. True. Perez seems awfully confident that he’d pass Verstappen with ease. I’ve never seen him overtake Max even once in his entire career.. so I think he lucked in to the win.

      1. Correct seen the numbers on the hard i think Perez would have a hard time to overtake Max.

      2. The first 2 years at Red Bull Checo hasn’t had the same race pace as Max except for maybe a few races where at periods he was briefly able to come close. This year we have seen 2 races where they are pushing to the limit and the lap times are almost identical.. In Baku Checo managed his tyres better and was able to manage the gap to Max. So thats why he’s so confident.. He knows he has a car underneath him that he can take the fight to Max, now we see if it’s all talk or if he can continue to fight at this level.

  4. I get that F1 drivers tend – and need – to think very highly of themselves. But Perez is in a league of his own, when it comes to overrating own abilities…

    1. It’s not that. Perez is one of only 2 drivers in F1, who are given cars in which you are supposed to win, because those cars are much better than everybody else’s. This forces him to have to explain each time he didn’t win why he didn’t and why he would win if people state he wouldn’t.

  5. Dave Collitt
    5th May 2023, 11:23

    Anything and anybody that beats big mouth Verstappen is always a plus

    1. Strictly speaking it is Perez having the big mouth here… but hey, don’t let that cloud your hatred

  6. My thoughts at the time were that RB brought Max in before Perez got withing DRS range.
    Max was clearly struggling on his tyres.

  7. The timing of the pitstop with the SC right afterwards was unfortunate for Max but it is crystal clear to me that it was done to protect Max from an imminent DRS attack from Checo. The RB pit wall wanted to avoid a straight fight between their drivers, which is very much what I wanted to watch.

  8. Perez had managed his medium tyres better and was in DRS range. Max pitted to hard and without SC I expected Perez to do the same the next lap. That fact would have made a complete different situation in the second stint with Max in front with both on fresh tyres. Nobody can predict what would have happened without SC but Perez could never have past VER in the first stint on the mediums because VER was already in the pits.

  9. I think it was possible, moderately probable, but far from definite. Good to see someone will be testing Max now with Ferrari seconds behind.

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