Perez has taken F1 learnings from “best reference” Verstappen thanks to “open approach”

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Speaking on Thursday ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sergio Perez says a week of meetings with his engineers following the Qatar Grand Prix has helped his upturn in fortunes towards the conclusion of the 2023 Formula One season.

Across Singapore, Japan and Qatar, Perez scored just five points. He was 0.8s off Verstappen in qualifying at Suzuka and a second away in Qatar as he got knocked out in Q2.

Collisions with other drivers in Singapore and Japan, as well as a spate of track limit violations in Qatar, saw the Mexican come under serious pressure for P2 in the Drivers’ Championship from Lewis Hamilton.

However, P4 in the US and São Paulo Grands Prix and his podium last weekend in Las Vegas halted a terrible run of results to seal 2nd in the standings. He could well have been on the rostrum at his home race in Mexico if it wasn’t for the turn 1 incident, too.

Perez explained that they were going too far out of the window with the set-up as they desperately searched for a way to improve their form. Since that Qatar meeting, the Mexican has closed the gap somewhat to Verstappen on pure performance.

“I had a really deep one in Qatar where I went back to the factory for like a week. I went through it very much in detail with all the engineers.

“We understood a lot of things that we weren’t doing to compensate the weaknesses that we had and we were probably taking the wrong approach with the car and trying to compensate too much with car set-up and ultimately just getting lost weekend in, weekend out.

“I needed the time. I need that. It’s very busy, we are very busy with all the commitments we have in racing, with the simulator and so on. But I felt at the time that I needed it.

“It was just important to step back and really look at it in detail. I think since then our season has transformed completely.”

The 33-year-old added that while set-up was the main factor, trying to adapt his style to the RB19 has also played a role.

“It’s been a bit of both. Basically the downturn was a bit on what we were doing with the set-up on a few weekends.”

Heading into the final round on Sunday, Perez is 276 points adrift of teammate Verstappen. It’s by far the biggest gap ever seen in the championship between two teammates.

Asked if he can learn things from his incredibly fast teammate and the triple World Champion, Perez agreed, adding it’s important to have an open mind on things to try and improve.

“Definitely there are things that you learn from him. I think obviously I have the best reference out there, because he was obviously the one who was so competitive.

“There’s no harm in looking at what he’s doing, how he’s doing it and try to learn and improve. See what works for you that he’s doing differently to you.

“I’ve always had a very open approach — and I think it’s something that works well.”

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool