Sergio Perez may have flown under the radar at the United States Grand Prix, but his P3 on the day was an incredible feat considering he was sick and thirsty.
At the Circuit of The Americas, the Red Bull driver qualified third, maintained his position off the line, and finished third after 56 laps.
While the Mexican driver finished on the podium, his performance was far from spectacular — at least until the specifics were revealed.
Perez informed Red Bull that his water bottle was leaking and that he would be without water inside a lap at a track that was nearly 40°C.
Furthermore, the driver had been sick all morning with a stomach bug.
“I think it was my toughest race ever physically,” Perez said as he celebrated his podium finish.
“It was a horrible one. I was suffering from some diarrhoea early in the morning for some reason, I don’t know so I hydrated myself really well.
“But then, since lap one onwards I ran out of drink and already, from the first stint I was really really struggling massively to make things properly.
“I was really losing strength and it was really difficult. I think the last 30 or 40 laps were really tough.”
Asked if he had ever felt like this after a race, he said in the post-race press conference: “No, it’s the first time. And I hope the last one.”
Perez’s middle stint was also hindered by having to utilize a used pair of medium tyres; the driver had used an extra set of tyres in qualifying when he was penalized for exceeding track limits.
“I think there are a lot of positives to take from the weekend,” he added.
“My race was, I think, firstly compromised by the tyres that I had and being on the scrubbed medium, I think was quite a bit of a disadvantage considering how high the degradation was today.
“And then, I struggled massively, physically, from lap 20 onwards, so it wasn’t an ideal race. But I think we managed to stay within the undercut region from the leaders and that really triggered the undercut, firstly with Max on Lewis.
“We tried to do the same with Lewis and he had no other option but to pit, so we avoid him doing his optimal race, so I think in that sense it worked well – but since lap 20 onwards, I was pretty much done.”
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team’s owner, was impressed by his driver’s fortitude.
“Checo drove another strong race today. … It wasn’t great for him as he was struggling with a stomach bug for most of the weekend,” Horner said. “Not great to lose the fluid on a day like this today.”
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