Australian GP | Perez: Red Bull “didn’t have the pace that we normally have” in Melbourne

Spread the love

Sergio Perez endured a difficult weekend at Albert Park after qualifying issues saw the Mexican trapped in the gravel on his first lap and forced to start from the pit lane. He described his weekend as “really bad” and pointed out Red Bull “didn’t have” their usual 2023 F1 pace advantage over their nearest rivals.

Photo Credits: Oracle Red Bull Racing

After winning the second race of the 2023 F1 season in Saudi Arabia, Sergio Perez had a shocker of a weekend in Australia, which he described in his own words as “really bad” and “totally unacceptable”.

The Mexican headed to Melbourne just one point off the championship lead that belongs to his team-mate Max Verstappen, and leaves it with a deficit of 15 points to the Dutchman after a shocking Q1 elimination left Perez to start from the pit lane, from which he could only recover to P5 by the chequered flag.

Perez had a new Energy Store and Control Electronics unit installed on his car ahead of the race, the third of each component, both of which exceeding the permitted allocation of two for the season, and the team also made changes to the suspension set-up of his car after his shocking final practice and qualifying issues that meant he could barely stay on track.

Speaking after the race, Perez explained that the changes helped to “improve” the situation, but urged his team to sort out these issues before the Azerbaijan GP in late April:

“I think we managed to improve. We changed a lot of things on the car, so hopefully that helped us a lot,” he said. “Obviously it was a really bad – very bad – weekend you know, what happened [in qualifying] is totally unacceptable. We have to get to the bottom of it, because I felt we had a really good weekend up to [Saturday].

“And [with] those issues – we work so hard preparing the grand prix and then that just puts us back completely – we lost all the confidence.

“Definitely we had the pace to fight for victory today, but finishing [in] P5 is damage limitation.”

The Mexican explained he could’ve made more progress early on, after the red flag for Alex Albon’s crash, as he had a brilliant launch off the line but had to take avoiding action in a “massive mess” heading into turn one, as he battled with Esteban Ocon and Nyck de Vries:

“I think [fifth place] is as much as we could do when you start in that position. I had a really good start at the restart – the first standing start [after the red flag] – I had a really good one, I jumped like three or four places.

“But then it was a massive mess, so I had to back out of it, otherwise I wouldn’t finish.

“When you look at where we started and how difficult it was to pass with the DRS train that we ended up [with], we managed to limit a bit the damage from yesterday.”

And the second red flag restart proved just as eventful for the Red Bull driver. He took a trip through the gravel trap at the first corner after Carlos Sainz tagged Fernando Alonso into a spin. Perez explained how the lateness of the final restart – nearly 5PM local time – meant that the setting sun was right in the drivers’ eyes, causing a safety issue that meant he “didn’t feel safe” racing:

“I’ve seen some more crazy races like this,” he told ViaPlay. “I think all [was] good, just [not] the start time – we need to make sure we start the race earlier.

“I didn’t feel safe at the end of the day and the race, so there is plenty of work to do there. The sun is basically on our face. At the restart, we couldn’t see anything.”

Reflecting on the race pace, Perez acknowledged that Red Bull did not have their usual pace advantage over their rivals that was so evident in Bahrain and Jeddah:

“It was very tricky; we just couldn’t overtake at all. We didn’t have the pace that we normally had, I think everyone was a lot closer to us today.

“I was pretty frustrated later on, because I couldn’t get close enough, just took me a bit too long in that DRS train, so I couldn’t really get any further than I did.

“So let’s look forward to Baku, make sure that we sorted our issues and come back strong.”