Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc went into the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points, both hunting for the runner up spot in the drivers’ championship after the title was won in Suzuka by Max Verstappen.
Leclerc looked to have gotten away from Perez during the race, despite starting behind him after a front row lockout from Red Bull in qualifying.
Perez and Red Bull stuck to their two-stop strategy and it nearly paid dividends, as the Mexican has a significant pace advantage over Leclerc in the closing stages of the Grand Prix and closed in on the Monegasque.
The 32-year-old managed to close the gap to 1.3 seconds on the final lap of the race, but was just unable to get a move done on the Ferrari driver, resulting in him failing to secure Red Bull’s first ever one-two championship finish.
Perez believes things could have been different if Pierre Gasly had done a better job of getting out of his way when the Frenchman was shown the blue flags.
The AlphaTauri driver had been battling towards the back of the grid after a Q1 elimination, and approaching Turn 6 Gasly failed to vacate the racing line for Perez as the blue flags were waved in his direction.
The pair were lucky to avoid a collision and Perez believes that Gasly’s antics may have been what cost him in his battle with Leclerc.
“Well, I certainly lost a bit, probably a second or so or probably more,” said the Mexican when asked about the incident.
“There were clearly blue flags, but he was in a fight and it’s pretty hard not to give up the position.
“I think he was thinking to go for the move but I just end up being there and I thought he left it open.
“I went for it and luckily I could brake at the last minute otherwise there would have been contact.
“In normal conditions that will certainly be a penalty for Pierre but it is the last race. It’s how it goes sometimes.”
Gasly will be relieved to have not been penalised for the incident, as two more penalty points on his record would have seen him get banned for his first race with Alpine next season.