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Perez felt Verstappen was hindrance at crucial point in Abu Dhabi

Sergio Perez believes that Max Verstappen inadvertently cost him time at a crucial stage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez believes that Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen's pace in the middle stint of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a key reason why he lost out to Charles Leclerc. Perez was locked on points with Leclerc in the fight for P2 in the standings, with whoever finished ahead set to claim the runner-up spot. After the initial round of pit-stops, Perez was tucked up behind Verstappen thanks to the powerful undercut, sitting about two seconds behind. He radioed into the team to ask them to tell the Dutchman to speed up, seeing as he was to employ a two-stop strategy. In the end, clever Ferrari strategy dummied Perez into stopping early and ultimately falling 1.3 seconds short of Leclerc in a chase to the line as the Monegasque took P2 in both the race and season. However, Perez felt that not being able to deploy his full pace in the middle stint behind Verstappen was crucial.

Perez's race was undone in middle stint

"I think it's how this sport really works, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose," Perez explained to media, including RacingNews365.com , when asked about his feelings. "Ferrari and Charles did a fantastic race, they had great tyre management, and they were stronger than us, especially in that first stint - I died towards the end. "That made it a little bit tricky with our strategy. "In the second stint, when I was behind Max – who was on a one stop, I was on a two – I ended up not being able to maximise this stint and I couldn't push as much as we should have. "But at the end of the day, we gave it our all and that's what really matters. "We were discussing [switching to a one-stop] at some points, but tyre deg was higher than we thought it was going to be. "We just didn't push as much as we should on that second stint and probably left two seconds on the table."

Encouraging for Perez

In the end, Leclerc finished three points ahead of Perez in the standings, meaning that even if Verstappen had not ignored team orders in Brazil to let Perez past, Leclerc still would have beaten the Mexican by one point. Nevertheless, despite the disappointment in missing out on second place, Perez was optimistic for next season. "How we started the first few races as a team, with the reliability issues, we have come away and done such a strong job," Perez explained as Red Bull scooped 17 wins from 22 races. "It's very encouraging, and I really hope that we can keep this momentum going for Red Bull, and come back next year even stronger. "I believe that the competition will be a lot closer for next year, so I really hope that we can keep this momentum going."

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