Mexico City GP: Sergio Perez lives dream on home podium as Red Bull hail F1 form and 'best team spirit'
A year on from being a free agent looking for an F1 drive, Sergio Perez secured his third straight podium on a "very special" day in his career; Red Bull, who have closed right in on Mercedes, say Perez has helped provide the "best team spirit" they have ever had
Last Updated: 08/11/21 2:15pm
Sergio Perez lived out a Formula 1 dream on Sunday with a home podium he called "very special" despite admitting his disappointment about failing to pass Lewis Hamilton late on, as Red Bull hailed the Mexican's form and the "best team spirit" he has helped instill.
While Max Verstappen's win and Hamilton's defence prevented a perfect Mexican City GP for Perez, he still became the first Mexican driver to lead his home race and the first to secure a podium, finishing third in the end.
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One year on from being a free agent looking for a drive in F1, Perez was cheered on by 140,000 fans in a raucous atmosphere, while he was also joined in the post-race celebrations by his family.
"It's definitely very special," Perez told Sky F1. "As a driver we always want more but today is a very special day for myself.
"I have pretty much everyone that has been with me since day one up there on the podium so that's something I enjoyed a lot. It's a very special day for my family, for my country, for all the fans and also for the team."
Perez was hunting down Hamilton on fresh tyres but only got close enough for a mini-lunge at Turn 4 on the final lap - which was always too far back to be successful.
"I obviously wanted more but it's a great result," said Perez. "I was giving my best but it was hopeless, I didn't have a single chance... if I had a small chance I would have gone for it."
Nevertheless, Perez's podium was the latest in a string of encouraging results, securing three straight podiums for the first time in his lengthy career.
Perez's improvement, getting to grips at the end of his first year in the Red Bull, is also a major boost for his team in their quest for the constructors' title - they are now just one point behind Mercedes - and the drivers' title, with Verstappen enjoying a 19-point buffer to Hamilton with four races left.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner praised Perez's work on and off the track.
"He's found his form the last three or four races and that's just presenting us with so many more options," said Horner. "He's totally in tune with that, he's asking more questions from the car as well and I have to say, it's probably one of the best if not the best team spirit that we've had in this team."