Sergio Pérez lost one second place but secured another in Las Vegas on Saturday as Red Bull made sure of the top two places in the Formula One drivers’ championship for the first time.
Two weeks after he missed out on the podium in Brazil after being overtaken at the finish, Pérez was pipped at the post again when he was passed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the last lap in Las Vegas.
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The points for third place, with one race remaining, at least made sure Pérez cannot now be overtaken for second overall.
“It’s a bit of mixed feelings,” Pérez said. He was overtaken at Turn 14 while triple world champion teammate Max Verstappen secured his record-extending 18th victory of the season.
“It was really not nice to lose a place to Charles there in the end.”
Pérez’s year began strongly, with two wins from the first four races, and then slumped before finally getting back on track.
“It started really well, fighting for the championship. But then, I think in Barcelona, we had such a dominant car, but I just couldn’t set it up properly. It was just getting out of my hands, the confidence was going down.
“So just to manage to come back and really put together a strong result… I think to be able to constantly be fighting at the top. I think that really is the highlight of my year,” the Red Bull driver said.
Even in the years of domination with Sebastian Vettel from 2010-13, Red Bull failed to finish the championship with their drivers holding the top two spots.
“He was so unlucky to lose out on second place but it was enough to see him secure second place in the championship and we are extremely happy for him and the team,” team boss Christian Horner said.
“It was a fantastic drive from both of them and it sums up the year we have been having. Max’s 18th win, a 20th victory for us [in 2023] and our first P1 and P2 in the drivers’ championship. It really has been a fantastic year.”
Finishing even third was something of a win, with Pérez pitting on the opening lap after colliding with Valtteri Bottas’s Alfa Romeo into Turn one, damaging his front wing.
“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,” he said.
“We had really strong pace on that first stint, so we put ourselves back in contention. Then with the Safety Car, that brought us into the race.”