“I was quite front-limited and had too much understeer” — Sergio Pérez reflects on “nightmare” F1 Spanish GP

Photo Credit: Red Bull Racing
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Sergio Pérez started the 10th round of the F1 championship, the Spanish Grand Prix, from eleventh on the grid.

This starting position was not ideal and he could do with his RB20. Although he managed to pass Nico Hülkenberg and both Alpine drivers, he was a distant P8.

The Mexican got stuck behind Nico Hülkenberg in the first stint, and struggled to clear the Alpines. Only a final lap pass on Pierre Gasly got him P8.

“With the penalty we had, where we started, it was so difficult to pass on that first stint and then my race was over,” Perez said.

“It was a nightmare of a race. It was a very difficult race overall. In the end, we switched to a three-stop and we managed to come back to [Pierre] Gasly and secure eighth, but it was very hard.

“We were lost at the start when we spent a lot of time behind Hülkenberg; I tried to save the tyres at the beginning, and push, but it was very difficult… in the end, when I was going to pass him, he entered the pits and the damage was already done to the tyres.

The 6-time race winner explained how the soft tyre in particular was causing him headaches, as he struggled generally with confidence and finding a balance he needed to attack the corners.

Pérez was consistently around 0.4s-0.6s slower than Verstappen throughout practice and qualifying, with the Dutchman almost a minute clear by the chequered flag.

“I had too much understeer on the soft tyre and was very vulnerable on the left front tyre. That’s something we’re going to analyse.

“Yes, I think I understood a lot of things that happened over the weekend during the race, the balance was quite off on the soft, so quite linked to the qualifying issues we had. So yeah, I think we can come back strong.

“I was quite front-limited, I couldn’t get the rotation and I couldn’t get the power down. The problem I have at the moment is that I cannot balance the car through all the speeds.

“I am struggling quite a bit in the medium to low speed to be able to have the stability I need with the rotation.

“That is something I am working quite hard with the team. We did some aggressive changes for the weekend, which I don’t think worked, so we will review those.”

In the past, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona has been a venue for pre-season testing.

The Mexican explained the weekend turned into a test session as they tried all sorts of set-ups throughout Friday to try and make him feel more comfortable in the car.

“Our weekend was dirty in terms of, we basically explored, more than testing, probably, the car from FP1 to FP2.

“We have never swung around so many things on set-up.

“We were a bit desperate to try and find a balance, so we need to review all of that, but I see the light out of the tunnel.”

This eighth position meant the Mexican’s return to the points, after not scoring in either Monte Carlo or at the Gilles Villenueve Circuit in Canada as he crashed out of both events.

“The other teams are making important progress. Outside of that, I haven’t really maximized the potential of the balance and set-up either. We have missed a lot this weekend, I think it will be important to be there in the next races.

“McLaren looks very strong, very competitive on all types of circuit,” the Mexican expressed when he was questioned about Red Bull’s dominance.

Pérez finds himself in fifth position in the drivers’ championship with 111 points, behind Max Verstappen, who leads, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. The next stop on the Formula 1 calendar will be in Austria, home race of the World Champion Team.