Sergio Perez says that his tussle with Max Verstappen for the lead of the Miami Grand Prix was “on the limit” of making contact.
Perez held the lead of the grand prix in the early stages but dropped back behind his team-mate when he pitted for fresh Hard tyres.
Verstappen ran at the front for several laps after starting in ninth place and after he emerged from the pit lane, he was right on the rear of Perez’s RB19.
The race-winning overtake for Verstappen occurred at the opening corner, with Perez presenting a small challenge in the braking zone.
However, it wasn’t enough to keep Verstappen behind, who went on to secure the 38th victory of his F1 career.
Reflecting on the battle with his team-mate, Perez said: “Obviously at the end of the day, we have to put the team ahead of us.
“We are just two drivers but there are so many people working back home and working really hard we have to show respect.
“In the end we had a really good fight between us and I think a bit more would have meant contact and I don’t think that will have been fair for any of us.”
Perez missed out on the chance to take the lead in the F1 Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career.
During the opening stages of the race from Miami, he complained over the team radio regarding the difficulty of managing his Medium compound tyres.
The Mexican admits that he knew in those early laps that holding on for the victory would be difficult as he saw Verstappen close in.
“It started well, but very early on, I saw that the Medium was very fragile, initially, so I had to protect the tyre quite a lot just to make lap 15 or so.
“And it was really hard to lean on that tyre. Basically, the whole right-hand side was really difficult.
“I could see that Max was closing up on the Hard. And from that point on, I knew that the race was looking difficult.
“And then when I went onto the Hard, Max had very strong pace, so we didn’t manage to open a gap. So yeah, he simply came too close to us.
“We had a bit of a fight on track, which was quite clean – to the limit, but clean and obviously putting the team in front of us.
“Again, a great team result, but obviously, today Max deserved the victory because he was the strongest car out there.”