Perez claims a podium finish despite being unwell

Perez claims a podium finish despite being unwell

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez claimed a podium finish despite the illness that left him “really weak” for the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix weekend.

Sergio Perez missed the media day on Thursday because he needed to take some rest after feeling unwell on Wednesday evening.

The Mexican driver later performed poorly during the Friday grand prix qualifying session by violating track limits over the last two turns, which resulted in three lap times being deleted and an elimination from Q2.

However, Perez rallied from 15th place to finish third on the Red Bull Ring podium on Sunday, behind teammate Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, after placing second in the sprint race.

The drivers in ahead of him received five-second track limits penalties during their pit stops, which helped the Mexican driver. However, he distinguished himself by outdueling Ferrari rival Carlos Sainz and McLaren driver Lando Norris to take third place in Sunday’s race.

Given his sickness which had side effects like fatigue, sleep deprivation and high fevers, Perez said his comeback was especially fulfilling.

“I’m really happy,” Perez said after the race. “It’s been a very difficult weekend for me personally, physically.

“I have been really, really weak. I was sick on Thursday. So, it hasn’t been an easy weekend.

“High fevers, no sleep, during the weekend. So, a great recovery from the team, fantastic strategy and we had great pace.”

Perez said of the result that ends a run of three GPs without a podium: “It’s been a bit of a rough patch for me. So, now, hopefully we are back and we can keep those positions here now.”

Perez’s teammate Max Verstappen said his crew had given him perfect stints as he secured the sprint race and pole position with both victories as well as a bonus point for the quickest lap to the finish line.

The reigning world champion took the advantage after Leclerc exploited a virtual safety car to pit early and his better race pace allowed him to grab the lead. Verstappen eventually completed his first stop and he believes that this execution gave him confidence that he could repass both Ferraris to secure his fifth consecutive race victory.

Verstappen needed only 10 laps after switching to hard tyres to cut a six-second lead behind Leclerc and overtake for the victory.

“We opted not to box during the virtual safety car, and just follow our normal strategy,” the double world champion said after the race. “I think that worked out really well, because the tyre life was not that high around here. I think our stints were perfect.”

“I could see already the few laps before the virtual safety car came out. We were pulling out quite a gap.

“So, I knew that I would get them back eventually. I think just following our own plan at the time was the best way forward.”

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