Sergio Perez feels victories can come his way this season after Red Bull’s first 1-2 finish for five-and-a-half years at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
As surprising as it perhaps seems, you have to go all the way back to October 2016 and the Malaysian Grand Prix to find the last time Red Bull took first and second, that being via Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
This time, at Imola, it was Verstappen on the top step of the podium and Perez next to him as Red Bull ate into the championship leads held by Ferrari and Charles Leclerc.
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) April 24, 2022
Due to their reliability issues in Bahrain and Australia, Red Bull now trail by 11 points in the Constructors’ standings while Verstappen has closed to within 27 of Leclerc in the Drivers’, with the Monegasque having dropped from third to finish sixth at Imola following a spin 10 laps from the end.
Being the reigning World Champion and the driver they base the team around, Verstappen will clearly be Red Bull’s main hope of taking plenty more victories this season that would go a long way towards retaining his crown.
But with a pair of second-place finishes and a P4 this term, Perez is also aiming to increase his F1 career victory tally of two – which comprises the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix for Racing Point and the 2021 Azerbaijan GP for Red Bull.
Having said he had been seeking a win at Imola after finishing third in Saturday’s sprint, Perez was asked if it was possible for him to triumph this season and told reporters: “That’s the target. But this was a great day for the team.
“There are still a few bits we need to make better, but I’m very happy for Max and his win.”
Perez’s biggest challenge in the first European race of the season, besides ensuring his car stayed on a slippery, damp circuit, was keeping Leclerc behind him – which he did successfully.
“It was really intense since halfway through the race,” the Mexican added. “We had it all under control and then [Leclerc] started chasing us after the pit-stop, and then it was a fight, trying to warm up the tyres.
“The most important thing was not making mistakes. With these conditions, it was so tricky out there. To get a one-two is a great result for the team.
“We’ve been unlucky, the start [of the season] has been so difficult for us, so it’s great to see everyone in the team smiling.”