Sergio Perez has apologised to Lewis Hamilton after he helped Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen to the Formula One world title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
After pipping Verstappen to the lead on lap one, Hamilton was the man who led from the front for the majority of Sunday’s season finale however found himself in an unlikely battle with Perez midway through.
The Mexican took over the lead after Hamilton and Verstappen headed into the pits, and when the Englishman returned to the track he went off in pursuit to reclaim his number one spot after emerging much quicker than his Dutch rival.
However what the seven-time world champion did not anticipate is a battle with Perez, who put in a remarkable defensive display to keep Hamilton behind as long as possible, allowing his title-chasing teammate to make up valuable time.
After fending off the Mercedes man Perez was hailed by Verstappen and his whole team, as his teammate labelled him a ‘legend’ over the Red Bull radio.
Following his impressive showing though the Mexican did have some sympathy for Hamilton, as even he apologised for the part he played in the epic title race on DAZN.
Perez said: “Hurting someone in a world championship is something you do not want to do, but at the end of the day I have done it for my team.
“I am sure that Hamilton himself will understand it very well. I have done everything more than for Max, for my team.
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“These are circumstances in which life puts you there and you have to do it for them.”
Verstappen also had the impact of the safety car to thank for his win after it was deployed with just six laps remaining following a crash from the lowly Nicholas Latifi.
This again bunched up the field and allowed the Dutchman to make up important ground on Hamilton, which he eventually took advantage of after the pair played out a controversial one lap shoot-out to decide the world championship.
However Perez believes even with the safety car the Englishman’s race would have been an easy one without his defensive efforts earlier on.
He continued: “In the end, I was able to help him and that's important. I think those 10 seconds or so that Hamilton lost were the ones that made the race because it's the windows.
"If he hadn't helped in all the windows he could have done that in the safety car. I'd make a stop and the race would have been relatively easy for Lewis.”
Whilst the Mexican has put in a string of impressive performances this campaign, he has no doubt played second fiddle to teammate Verstappen, however he does believe he has what it takes to be the main man.
"I think it will be defined soon. I think I can be up to the task. Today I was up to the pace in terms of pace.
“In the last few races I have had a great progression. Starting from scratch, I think I have the best opportunity.
“Hopefully we can have a car as competitive as this year.”
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