Sergio Perez has described the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix as a “rollercoaster” after the Mexican found himself on the podium, despite suffering contact on lap one.
Perez, who had yet to score points in 2018, was hit by the Williams Martini Racing of Sergey Sirotkin as the field entered turn two on the opening lap. Perez though, was able to continue and avoid various incidents throughout the field, benefiting from late drama for Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas to finish third.
“I’m extremely happy,” said Perez, who overcame a five-second penalty for a safety car infringement.
“Our race was a rollercoaster. We started with an incident on the first lap when I was hit from behind by a Williams [Sirotkin]. That pushed me into Kimi [Raikkonen] and broke my front wing so I had to pit.
“I was at the back and then I was given a five seconds penalty. I was able to make my way through the field and when the Safety Car came out we managed to keep our position.
“The team did a great pit stop and I was able to serve my penalty and still come out in front of Grosjean.”
Perez, like much of the field, battled against tyre warm-up issues on the dusty Baku street circuit, but says the final two laps “were the best two laps of my life.”
“I was looking after my tyres because we only had SuperSofts left and warming them up was very difficult.
“I was struggling and every corner was a lottery, but then I saw the cars in front of me were struggling too. I passed Seb [Vettel] but then he recovered and put pressure on me.
“I had to give it everything in the last two laps: my pace was unbelievable and I think they were the best two laps of my life. This podium means a lot to me, I am very pleased and proud for myself, my family, my team and Mexico.”