Sergio Perez said the disappointment of his late retirement from third in the Bahrain Grand Prix was irrelevant following Romain Grosjean’s major accident.
Perez launched from fifth on the grid to third before the race was red-flagged on the opening lap following Grosjean’s heavy crash at the exit of Turn 3.
After the race restarted, Perez maintained his podium position and loomed to claim a second rostrum visit in as many races.
However, the Racing Point driver was forced into retirement with a suspected MGU-K failure with three laps remaining, which caused the race to end behind the Safety Car.
An accident for team-mate Lance Stroll saw Racing Point suffer a double retirement, with the Silverstone team dropping behind McLaren to fourth in the constructors’ standings. Perez also slipped to fifth in the drivers’ championship behind Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo.
Perez admitted the late retirement was a body blow, but said he was relieved to see Grosjean walk away from the terrifying accident.
“It’s really hard for both myself and the team to take today’s result, but in the grand scheme of things, it almost becomes irrelevant after Romain’s crash at the start,” said the Mexican, who gifted third to Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
“At the end of the day, it’s either one more or one less podium or trophy for me, but the important thing is that Romain is still with us and that he’s okay.
“I wish him all the best. It was certainly hard to get back into the car after seeing something like that, but you just have to focus and prepare for the race.
“I think we executed a perfect race and the podium was definitely ours – it was going to be one of my best in Formula 1. It was gutting to retire with three laps left due to an MGU-K electrical issue.
“We were going to finish ahead of a Red Bull and a Mercedes, which is a great credit to all of us at the team, and we’d done such a good job all weekend too.
“We’ve lost out on some really important points today, which makes it a bit more difficult in the drivers’ and constructors’ championship battles, but the positive is that there are still two more races to make up for it.”
Team Principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer cut a dejected figure on the pit wall following Perez’s retirement, but remained confident his team could cut the now 17-point deficit to McLaren across the final two races.
“A tough evening in Bahrain,” Szafnauer said.
“(Perez) was cruelly denied a podium after an MGU-K issue forced us to park the car with three laps remaining.
“Up to that point, he had driven a flawless race, managing the tyres perfectly, and running comfortably in third place.
“Lance was just as unlucky – being eliminated through no fault of his own after Kvyat flipped him over. It was a scary moment, but fortunately Lance was checked at the medical centre and is okay.
“It makes the fight for third in the championship more difficult, but there are still two races to go, plenty of points available, and we know we have a competitive car.
“We will give everything we have to recover the lost points today and reclaim third in the championship.”
The Sakhir Grand Prix commences this Friday (Saturday morning AEDT).