Perez admits he “wasn’t expecting” Leclerc’s last-lap pass for second

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Sergio Perez says he was caught by surprise by Charles Leclerc on the final lap of the Las Vegas Grand Prix as he lost second place to the Ferrari driver.

The Red Bull driver finished third after Leclerc poached second place from him with a late move into turn 14 at the end of the long Strip straight.

Despite losing out, a podium was a welcome result after Perez pitted on the opening lap with front wing damaged sustained from contact with Valtteri Bottas in the turn one melee.

“It started really difficult with a lot of damage,” Perez said.

“Initially we broke the front wing, so we basically went all the way to the back of the grid. And then progressively we were [passing] one-by-one and things were going well, we had really strong pace on that first stint, so we put back ourselves in contention. Then with the Safety Car, that brought us into the race.”

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Perez pitted from the lead under the second Safety Car, allowing him to rejoin in second place behind leader Leclerc. The pair battled throughout the rest of the race but were both passed by Perez’s Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen.

“I overtook Charles, but I couldn’t pull away from him,” Perez explained. “I was just carrying a little bit too much wing in my car, so my straight line speed was a little bit down and I just couldn’t pull away from him. Then Max came, he passed us both.”

Perez gained second place when Leclerc locked up and ran wide into turn 12 with eight laps remaining, however, Leclerc dived by on the final lap to deny him second place.

“With Charles, he went straight,” Perez said. “It was quite difficult out there with the gusts of wind that we had a few times. I ended up locking up a few times, but luckily we kept it on track.

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“At the end with with Charles, I wasn’t expecting him – he was 0.7 [seconds behind], but then in the braking zone, he was there. So well done to him and to Max.”

Asked if he felt the Las Vegas Grand Prix had delivered on racing action during its inaugural event, Perez said “I think it did.

“Because it was good for racing, it was not easy to basically pull away from the people behind. And it’s a little bit like Baku, being the lead car makes life a little bit harder for you out there. So I think it did deliver.”

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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...

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14 comments on “Perez admits he “wasn’t expecting” Leclerc’s last-lap pass for second”

  1. Poor from Perez.

    What next for him after Red Bull? Willams, Haas or Alpine, I guess. All three because of the sponsorship money.

    1. Very poor, he really has disappointed me this season.

      1. hes very uncomfortable, and on a team that can afford for him not to be. This is his biggest problem. It is what it is, and he has to man up, but its not fair in the least. RBR can afford to winners on their team, if they wanted to. At least Mercedes attempted this, despite reliability being the key determinant and not the drivers themselves. Perez needs to be the biggest rooster on the team, and his team has to accept him being himself, and in control, right now it appears as if RBR is run like a family that only cares about their first born, instead of a cooperative, with two sides of a garage that are legitimately competing against each other.

        1. *two winners.

  2. At the end with with Charles, I wasn’t expecting him – he was 0.7 [seconds behind], but then in the braking zone, he was there

    I was almost certain that Leclerc will pull a last minute late braking move. How Checo left the inside open is just beyond me. He should have positioned his car at least in the middle of the corner so he can minimize the loss of moving outside the racing line at the exit. He just pulled a Trulli out there…

  3. Based on the last couple of races, he should be expecting to be passed on the last lap every time!

  4. Well, it’s not as though he had a lot of help from his own team.
    Verstappen could have given Perez DRS without any risk whatsoever to himself to ensure a 1-2 – but that’s not how this team rolls.

  5. Two consecutive races, so he should be more prepared.

  6. When Perez was behind LeClerc, with the bigger rear wing and already the experience of being passed by the Ferrari, I expected him to wait until the last lap to pull the trigger. When LeClerc went wide you just knew what was going to happen. Perez should have known and he just let him do it again to him.

    My guess, in Brazil he defended Alonso into 1 when he shouldn’t allowing him an actual chance into turn 4. Was he now trying to not make the same mistake again? … and therefore getting it wrong again?

  7. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    19th November 2023, 14:41

    I know we have HD screens whilst he has tiny vibrating wing mirrors, but surely anyone could see the attempt a mile off?

    1. George didn’t see it coming either…

      1. @bullfrog
        While that wasn’t great, at least it was at a corner where it was unlikely to be overtaken. Perez on the other hand got done by LeClerc in almost a carbon copy move just a couple laps before. How much of a warning does he need?

  8. Nobody expects Perez to expect anyone, I guess. They seem to be queueing up for these last lap passes now.

  9. Come on Checo, you have to defend a little.
    Covering the inside might compromise a bit you trajectory after the last turn but the flag was close enough so it shoud not have been a problem, and I doubt that Charles could have passed in the outside, too slippery

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