Sergio Perez felt a podium finish in Spain was possible but he was not prepared to take the risks, a further sign of realisation that every point now counts for his fading title hopes.
Perez revealed heading into the Spanish Grand Prix that a change of approach would see him now focus on extracting the maximum available points from each race weekend, rather than thinking about the World Championship as he fights to keep his relentless team-mate Max Verstappen within range in what has became an all-Red Bull title fight.
And his chances at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya were not helped at all by a surprise elimination in Q2, with Perez therefore left to start the Spanish Grand Prix from P11.
He did put in a decent recovery driver from there, crossing the line P4, but Verstappen would claim his third victory in a row, 24 seconds clear of closest challenger Lewis Hamilton, to crank up the pressure on Perez further.
And Perez revealed that struggles to clear the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso especially, on an afternoon where he found overtaking difficult overall, did not help his cause.
“It was quite hard to pass actually,” Perez said in the TV pen after the race, as per F1 TV.
“Once I was behind Fernando, I really had to do his pace so that meant that it was a little bit tricky, but it is what it is.
“I think if we wanted to finish higher, we needed a much better qualifying, so looking forward for Montreal now.”
Asked if the upcoming free weekend will represent vital recovery time after a horror show in Monaco and then this P4 in Spain, Perez replied: “I’m not tired. But yeah, I think, especially after this one we’re going to analyse and make sure that we understand what happened and make sure that we come [back] strong.”
It was when Perez took to social media after the race though that we got a further indication of this mindset that every point now counts.
The Mexican racer would take on new soft tyres for his final stint as he set about hunting down George Russell in the Mercedes, ultimately falling three-and-a-half seconds short of that target.
Perez though mentioned a reluctance to “take more risks” during the race, and instead settled for the strong points haul in P4.
“I definitely expected more from this weekend, I think the podium was possible, but it was important to secure the points and not to take more risks,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Now is time to rest a bit and focus everything on Canada.”
Perez has in fact managed to stretch his advantage over Alonso in the Drivers’ Championship, his buffer in P2 now standing at 18 points.
Crucially though, what was a 39-point lead for Verstappen heading into the Spanish GP, has now grown to 53.
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