Red Bull: “Brutal” to pit Perez for Austin F1 fastest lap point

Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner says it would have been “brutal” to pit Sergio Perez in the United States Grand Prix to snatch the fastest lap point away from Lewis Hamilton.
Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB16B.
Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB16B.

Perez claimed his fourth podium finish of the season in Austin with third place, more than 40 seconds down on Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen and title rival Hamilton, who were separated by just 1.3s as they crossed the line. 

Although Verstappen fended off Hamilton to take an important victory, Hamilton was able to limit the damage to his championship prospects by securing the bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race, meaning he sits 12 points behind the Dutchman heading into the final five rounds. 

With Perez finishing only 10 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, a decision to pit for fresh tyres in a bid to take the fastest lap point away from Hamilton would have resulted in the Mexican sacrificing his podium appearance. 

Towards the end of July’s British Grand Prix, Red Bull gave up a points finish for Perez in order to prevent Hamilton from taking the fastest lap bonus point. But the team was not willing to repeat that strategy at COTA. 

"It would have been brutal to pit Checo and take him off the podium,” Horner said. 

"Leclerc was obviously too close behind. In the collective position of the team it was better for Checo to take the points. So that's what we did.”

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing celebrates his third position on the podium.
Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing celebrates his third position on the…

While Verstappen was able to double his advantage over Hamilton in the race for the drivers’ title, a back-to-back rostrum appearance for Perez helped Red Bull reduce the gap to Mercedes in the constructors’ championship to 23 points. 

Perez struggled with illness throughout the United States GP and was also without his drinks system in what he described as the “longest race of my life”. 

“Checo drove another very strong race,” Horner added. 

“Unfortunately, his drinks bottle wasn’t working and it wasn’t great for him because he’s been struggling with a stomach bug for most of the weekend. So not great to lose the fluids on a day like this.”

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