Sergio Pérez will leave the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix disappointed to have fallen at the final hurdle, with the Mexican having lost out in the battle for second in the Drivers’ Championship.
Pérez has been in control of second place in the standings for the last several rounds, with his emphatic victory at the Singapore Grand Prix having been the real turning point in the Mexican’s season.
Pérez entered the season finale level on points with Leclerc rather than two points in front, something he would’ve been had Max Verstappen not defied team orders on the final lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Regardless of that, the 32-year-old was looking strong all weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit and was even in with a shout of pole position.
Whilst it was Verstappen who claimed pole, Pérez settled into the race brilliantly and actually demonstrated some very good pace, as himself and his team-mate built a small gap over Leclerc in P3.
Following the opening pit-stops, Pérez suddenly found himself under pressure from Leclerc, with Ferrari’s pace having been a real shock to Red Bull.
The Red Bull driver perhaps had more pace in him than he was able to produce, after believing he was being held up by his team-mate.
“Yeah I’m being held up by Max [Verstappen],” Pérez told his team over the radio on Lap 29.
Red Bull opted to put Pérez on to a two-stop strategy in the end, potentially so he could push to the maximum without someone ahead of him.
However, this strategy ultimately cost the driver second in the race and in the standings, as Verstappen and Leclerc both completed a one-stop strategy.
Pérez managed to close 17 seconds on Leclerc in the closing stages of the race, but still ended up just over a second behind the Monegasque driver.
Given that Pérez was put on to a two-stop strategy, then perhaps the Austrians could’ve switched him with Verstappen on Lap 29 when the Mexican informed the side of Verstappen’s slow pace.
Whilst this will never be known, Red Bull will likely feel extremely disappointed with Checo not claiming second, given that the energy drink-owned team have never claimed a one-two in the Drivers’ Championship.