Sergio Perez has described missing out on a third-place finish at Imola as “painful” after admitting his Racing Point team “basically gave the podium to [Daniel] Ricciardo” with a disastrous late call.
The Mexican, who is still searching for a new team after being dropped for next season, produced one of the drives of the day at Imola as he moved up the field from 11th on the grid following a long first stint to sit fourth.
He was then promoted to third in the closing stages as Max Verstappen’s spin in his Red Bull saw his lose his second-place finish.
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That incident triggered the Safety Car and Racing Point called Perez in for new tyres, despite him having pitted later than nearly all of his midfield rivals and therefore already on fresher tyres.
The decision let Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon pass through, with Daniil Kvyat also overtaking him on track, meaning his podium turned into a sixth-place finish.
“Looking at it, it didn’t make sense at the time – the call was very late – but it’s always easy to take the right decision after the race,” said Perez. “But overtaking today was extremely difficult.
“I haven’t spoken to the team yet so they must have some reasons on it, but a painful day. We had the podium in the pocket and it’s just hard to digest.
“They are as disappointed as I am right now. We are a team and we lose and also win together. In hindsight it was the wrong call today.
“It was a fantastic day. From all the negatives we can take a lot of positives.
“That first stint was tremendous. Great strategy, great calls from the team. We put ourselves in a position to get that podium.
“But, yeah, it is a painful day and also a painful day in the championship. We basically gave the podium to Ricciardo.”