NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Time For Some Tequila! Sergio Perez Salvages a Memorable Weekend in Mexico City

Red Bull will head to the Brazilian Grand Prix with momentum on its side after Max Verstappen won the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix Sunday (Nov. 7) in commanding fashion. While Verstappen set the example, executing a blitzing start and bold move around both Mercedes into the first corner of the race, Sergio Perez may be riding higher as the sun sets over Autodromo Hermanos Rodgriguez.

Perez started the race in fourth after Red Bull spent the whole of Saturday wishing they could find three or four extra tenths of pace. Both Red Bulls got a solid jump off the line, and Perez was promoted to third position after Valtteri Bottas was spun after contact with Daniel Ricciardo. Bottas’ day may have only begun its downward spiral, but Perez smelled blood and made good use of his new position.

Verstappen controlled the race from start to finish, leaving Hamilton miles behind in almost no time. Contrary to many instances this year where Hamilton and Verstappen have gapped the field to fight among themselves, today Verstappen gapped Perez and Hamilton, while those two gapped the field in turn.

Despite Hamilton pulling out a few tenths here and there, Perez was able to follow closely behind him throughout the event. He never gave the Briton more than a lap or two of strategic leeway at a time.

By the time Checo’s second pit stop came around, Hamilton had long been unable to put himself more than three seconds ahead of Perez. Even after those stops, the best Hamilton would get was a 10-second edge over his rival.

Once released to chase Hamilton on a pair of fresh hard tires, the purple laps started coming for Perez and the gap to Hamilton was down to six seconds after only 10 laps. On average, he took out 0.5 seconds on Hamilton each lap before catching the Mercedes outright. Some laps, this gain was only two tenths; on others, the Mexican closed in on Hamilton to the tune of 1.2 seconds a lap.

Though his pace and form were as good as anyone could ask for, Perez had to settle for a third-place finish. To his credit, the hometown hero made a bold lunge toward Hamilton’s inside on the white-flag lap entering turn 4, but 0.4 seconds was the closest he could get before the checkered flag fell.

Despite not taking second place from Hamilton, Perez capped off a weekend of important firsts at his home race on the podium. With today’s result, Perez is now the first Mexican driver to lead a Mexican Grand Prix and the first to stand on the podium once the race was complete.

His excitement was evident as the Red Bulls crossed the line for a double podium. Most wholesomely, he declared it was “time for some tequila!”

During a post-race interviews with Paul di Resta of Sky Sports, you would think Perez had just won the drivers’ title. Di Resta could hardly be heard when speaking to Hamilton or Verstappen over the deafening roars of the hometown crowd. Notably, Perez was saved for last in the interview queue.

“I gave my full heart and all for these people. I could actually hear them when I was going through here,” said Pérez, referring to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez’s unique stadium section. He closed off the interview by taking a moment to address his home crowd in his native Spanish.

This race marks two podiums in a row for Perez as the Formula 1 circus heads to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Brazilian Grand Prix. Fittingly enough, it’s a strong track for both Red Bull and Mercedes as they continue their championship battle up front.

See also
Max Verstappen Dominates for Third Mexican Grand Prix Victory

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