‘Hit by George’: Sergio Perez reveals when his title challenge ended

Sergio Pérez saw his title hopes vanish after being hit by George Russell and retiring from the Austrian Grand Prix.

Sergio Pérez has enjoyed a very strong end of the season, with the Red Bull driver having demonstrated the pace that saw him be considered Max Verstappen’s biggest challenger for the 2022 Drivers’ Championship.

The 32-year-old started the season brilliantly, after excellently bouncing back from a DNF at the season opener following a reliability issue.

Pérez claimed four second-place finishes from the first eight races of the season, as well as a victory at the famous Monaco Grand Prix.

It was after this victory that people began to take his title chances seriously, with the Mexican having also been in contention to win the Spanish and Azerbaijan Grand Prix, had he not been told to allow his team-mate past.

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However, two retirements in the space of three races saw Pérez slip well behind Verstappen in the standings, with DNFs in Canada and Austria having proven costly.

Neither were his fault once again, with his retirement in Canada having come as a result of another reliability issue, whilst at the Red Bull Ring he was forced to retire with damage after being hit by George Russell.

This collision with Russell is the point where Pérez believes he was no longer in title contention, with that particular retirement having been a “massive blow”.

“I think I had a really good start, I was in the fight for the championship,” Pérez said.

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“There were a couple of races where I struggled with the car and that cost me the most points and the chance to keep fighting for the championship.

“I think Austria, that’s where I got hit by George. We were closest in the championship and that was a massive blow, and from there we had a couple of races that were difficult for us.”

He then went under the radar slightly mid-season, where he endured a run of one podium in six races; however, that came to a dramatic end with an emphatic victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, which he then followed up with a P2 in Japan.

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A P4 at the United States Grand Prix and then third at his recent home race represents a strong end of the year for Pérez, who also thinks he was disadvantaged by the Austrians upgrades this season suiting Verstappen, rather than him.

“I think probably so,” answered the Mexican, after being asked if the season’s upgrades to the RB18 had suited Verstappen more.

“There are times when some upgrades are more or less beneficial and come with the handling. We’ve seen that with a lot of other drivers and I think the way we developed the car was more in Max’s direction. But as a team, we managed to understand that well and I really hope together we can avoid these things in the future.”