Perez lays claim to drive of the day after superb Italian Grand Prix performance

Although most of the plaudits will go to Charles Leclerc for delivering Ferrari its first victory on home soil for nine years, Sergio Perez may also have a valid claim for ‘driver of the day’ at the Italian Grand Prix.

Having endured another luckless qualifying during which the Mexican had to stop with a Power Unit problem in Q2, his Racing Point team opted to take a grid penalty and fit a new Phase 2 engine instead of start from the pitlane.

And, despite still having to start a lowly 18th on the grid, Perez produced one of his finest drives through the field to finish a superb seventh by the chequered flag. An opportunist tactic to pit for fresh rubber under the Virtual Safety Car paid handsome dividends and Perez also had to withstand late pressure from Max Verstappen to cling on for valuable points.

“It was a great recovery from what has been a difficult weekend in the lead up to the race, especially with the problems in qualifying,” said Perez in his team’s race debrief. “I think everything worked out for us in the end thanks to a strong strategy from the team and some good timing with the Virtual Safety Car. It was a tough race, especially the last 15 to 20 laps with Verstappen so close and putting me under pressure. We just had to push as much as we could.

“We’ve taken some good steps forward with the car recently and I’m optimistic going forward with more parts coming for Singapore. Hopefully, that will put us back into contention to keep scoring regular points from now until the end of the year.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.