Horner: Perez lost “in an excess of 20 points” of load during F1 Australian GP as Alonso’s tear-off went underneath floor

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Christian Horner has confirmed that Sergio Perez was struggling during the Australian Grand Prix as a tear-off from Fernando Alonso got lodged under his floor during the races, costing him valuable performance and creating excessive tyre degradation for the Mexican.

Running in P6 during the opening stint as he lost out at the start to Russell, he gained back a spot thanks to Verstappen’s DNF. Red Bull extended his medium stint and he rejoined in P11 behind Hamilton and Stroll, as well as Russell. He would pass all of them.

However, Alonso got a cheap stop under a VSC and jumped Perez for 5th. The gap between them on lap 18 was 9.0s. The Mexican made an easy move on the Spaniard 9 laps later.

Unfortunately for the 6-time Grand Prix winner, his pace evaporated after that as he picked up that tear-off from the Spaniard and lost a lot of performance, as Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner explained.

“Checo’s race, we went long on the first stint. His actual pace when he was coming through the field on the hard tyre as he closed in on Fernando was strong and matching that of the leaders.

“Literally as he’s passed Fernando, he’s picked up a tear-off underneath the floor, and it’s got lodged in an area that’s caused significant load loss.

“As he’s then passed Fernando, the car is not working as it should.

“So then you start to see degradation on the tyre at the end of the second stint, which has been unusual for our car.”

Even without the grid penalty for blocking Nico Hülkenberg in qualifying, Horner was not convinced Perez could have challenged the Ferraris in Albert Park due to their very strong pace all weekend.

“Difficult to say, for sure he’s been compromised when he’s picked up the issue with the floor.

“I think they were maybe just a bit too quick today. You never know.”

Perez had closed what was almost a 16s gap to Piastri down to 11s for P4 after he worked his way through the Aston and Mercedes drivers. He then started to drop away due to the high degradation on his hard tyre.

Asked how much load Perez lost with the tear-off under the floor, Horner gave a big number.

“I think it was in an excess of 20 points, a significant amount.”

A P5 for the 34-year-old leaves him P3 in the Drivers’ Championship, 5 points behind teammate and current standings leader Max Verstappen.