Sergio Perez says he came close to having to retire from Formula 1’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix before going on to claim victory.
Perez started from sixth on the grid but made progress off the line and then cycled through the second spot, behind Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, through the pit stop phase.
Verstappen’s high-speed tyre failure elevated Perez into the lead and he preserved the position across the two-lap sprint to the chequered flag.
Perez’s engineer immediately instructed him to halt the race-winning RB16B and he brought the car to a stop at pit exit.
“I am so, so happy for today,” said Perez after his second career win, and first for Red Bull.
“The race, normally Baku is pretty crazy. First of all, I have to say I am very sorry for Max because he did a tremendous race and he really deserved the win.
“It would have been incredible to get that 1-2 for the team but at the end, it is a fantastic day for us.
“We were close to retiring the car but luckily we managed to finish the race. It was quite difficult all way until the end.”
Perez had spent much of the race narrowly in front of Lewis Hamilton, having effectively utilised the overcut through the sole round of pit stops.
Perez said Hamilton had “pretty strong pace” but managed to stay ahead through the second stint and then at the restarted race.
“I had a poor start so he was alongside me but I was like ‘I am not going to miss it’,” he said.
“I broke as late as I possibly can and he did the same but it didn’t work for him. At least it’s a good day for the team.”