Perez needed to beat Leclerc to finish runner-up in the F1 drivers’ standings behind Verstappen.

However, Perez was unable to make his two-stop strategy work, finishing just over one-second behind Leclerc on the one-stop at the chequered flag.

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Perez famously blocked Lewis Hamilton during the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with his stern defence being a big factor in Verstappen ultimately winning the title.

In the post-race press conference, Verstappen was asked if there was an instruction from Red Bull to hold Leclerc up to help Perez.

“No, there was not, but also that is quite a tricky call to make,” Verstappen said. “You also don't want to end up… of course, you can possibly block but is that fair racing? I think not the nicest way going out of the season, like that. 

“And it looked like Checo was catching him enough to try and actually get a move but then he lost quite a bit of time with that bit of a fuss between… was it Pierre and Alex probably? You lost quite a bit of time with that, because I was watching the screen.

“But yeah, unfortunate. I think, like Checo said, that second stint, because the deg was quite high on the Medium, in hindsight, probably, as a team, we could have pushed a bit more on that on that middle stint for Checo, but that's always easy to say afterwards. At the time, we thought that we had to be a little bit careful on the tyres. 

“Again, we've had a lot of great weekends, but even in great weekends, there are always things that you can learn.”

Midway through the race, Perez complained that he was “being held up” by Verstappen, who was running just over two seconds ahead of him.

Explaining that exchange over team radio, Perez said: “Yeah, we were discussing it at some points. But, yeah, I think we thought that the deg was going to be higher than it really is. 

“And we just didn't push as much as we should have pushed on that second stint, and probably will left two seconds on the table there.”