Now the hullabaloo over that fantastic battle between Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix over third place has died down a little, the fact remains that Perez should never have been anywhere near Alonso on track.
The Mexican was one of a handful of drivers to be caught out by a yellow flag for Oscar Piastri’s off in Q3 just as that biblical storm prepared to unleash itself and make Interlagos itself a lake.
Even though his lap was not his best, Max Verstappen was on pole but Perez felt the pace was there for a front-row slot. Given he had to lift for Piastri, it’s just one of those things when everyone is racing the weather.
His start in the Grand Prix and early stint was fantastic as well, slicing both Mercedes’ to run fourth behind Verstappen, Lando Norris and Alonso – with the front two having cleared well off into the distance.
It quickly became clear the final podium spot would be going to either Alonso or Perez – and the Red Bull was the overwhelming favourite to do it.
Perez’s failure in Brazil
After the second stops to Soft tyres, there were over 20 laps for Perez to close a three-second or so distance to Alonso and ease away into the distance.
But through some canny driving, Alonso was positioning the car differently around the lap to throw Perez off where he was weak, but the fact remains, on Soft tyres, a Red Bull RB19 should be breezing past an Aston Martin AMR23.
If it was Verstappen hunting down Alonso, if he couldn’t get the move done on the first opportunity, he’d have done so within three laps.
Having to depend on a drag race, dumping all the energy possible up the hill to snatch a podium spot just isn’t on – as was going for the move when he did, knowing Alonso would come straight back at him on the run through Turn 3 and into Turn 4.
In the end, by 0.053s, Alonso prevailed, but really, he should have been nowhere near Perez who failed to get the best out of his class-leading equipment once again.
However, coupled with Lewis Hamilton’s quiet disaster on his way to eighth, Perez now enjoys a 32-point lead over the Mercedes driver in their quest for runner-up in the Drivers’.
The eight points he pulled out on Hamilton all but secure P2 for the Red Bull driver and would tick just about the last remaining box for what the team hasn’t done in F1.