Perez admits McLaren was the “fastest” team in F1 Miami GP as imbalance issues complicated his race

Photo Credit: Red Bull Racing
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In a race full of surprises on Sunday afternoon in Miami, Sergio Perez’s day was defined in the first corner.

Given the bad start of Charles Leclerc [starting second], the Mexican [who started fourth] took the line to the right of the Ferrari, going side-by-side with Leclerc.

As they got to turn one, he went too deep under braking on the dirty part of the track and was millimeters from collecting Sainz and close to rear ending his teammate Max Verstappen.

Oscar Piastri took advantage of the Mexican’s failed attempt to pass him and Carlos Sainz to take P3, behind Leclerc and Verstappen. It dropped Perez to P5.

He explained what happened at the start after the race.

“First of all, the start I had a good start and Charles [Leclerc] had a really bad start,” he said.

“But as soon as I brake into the inside there was no grip — like with Lewis [Hamilton] yesterday — off-line there was no grip and I ended up locking [my tyres].

“I nearly took Max out so I had to come off the brake and I lost the position to Oscar [Piastri].

“It was quite close [with Verstappen]. As soon as I saw he was so close I came off the brakes and ended up going straight, so I ended up losing the position.”

Regarding pace, it was a struggle for both Red Bulls as McLaren and Ferrari were both very strong on the day. Perez explained an imbalance hurt his pace as they went with an aggressive set-up on his RB20.

“It was unfortunate but other than that, we were struggling for some pace today. We just couldn’t manage to get the pace we needed. Something that we have to work on to try and understand what was the issue.”

Perez conceded he had plenty of balance problems as he had different limitations in high and low speed throughout the Grand Prix.

“I was a bit too much front-limited in the high speed and too rear-limited in the low speed. There was a big trade-off between low and high speed.”

Following the Safety Car, Perez came under serious pressure from Lewis Hamilton as it took him a number of laps to fire up the medium.

“It took me a long time in the end to get the medium tyre up to temperature.

“We had an imbalance in the car that from the beginning we tried to correct with the set-up, but it was a very aggressive set-up and in the end it hurt us a little.

“It’s something we’ve got to work on to try and understand why and what was the issue.

The 34-year-old conceded McLaren had the fastest car on Sunday as Norris drove away from Verstappen upon the resumption of the race following the Safety Car.

Norris had been putting relentless pressure on Perez before the Mexican pitted.

“They were very strong already in qualifying, I think they just messed up a bit in qualifying and couldn’t make the soft tyres work,” Perez said.

“But I think they’ve been the fastest this weekend, we were probably a little bit behind. Lando put me under a lot of pressure on that first stint towards the end.”

Nonetheless, Perez was relatively satsified at how things had been going until the Grand Prix. In spite of a tricky weekend, he collected 18 points overall.

“I think we were having a good weekend so far until the main race.

“We were always in the fight, in the classification and in the Sprint and yesterday we were always very close.

“Today [Sunday] I think we didn’t have enough pace to overtake and the traffic overheated the tyres a lot, and I think that was the main cause of our complicated race.

Perez finished the race in fifth position +14.650s from leader Norris, although a few hours later he would move up one more place when a penalty was confirmed for Carlos Sainz, leaving the Red Bull driver in fourth place.

The 12 points the Mexican added to his total keeps him P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, five ahead of Charles Leclerc.