Perez says he is “very concerned” that he was unable to challenge the Ferrari’s at the Canadian GP

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Sergio Perez endured a difficult 2023 Canadian GP weekend, in which he could only finish in sixth place after starting down in 12th. The Mexican didn’t hide his frustrations after the race, admitting he “didn’t have the pace” and is “very concerned” that he couldn’t put more pressure on the two Ferrari drivers.

Photo Credit: Oracle Red Bull Racing

After missing the optimal conditions in Saturday’s ever-changing damp track in qualifying, Perez found himself down in 12th place for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, 11 spots back from his team-mate and championship leader Max Verstappen. Whilst the Dutchman went on to win the race in dominant fashion, Perez was unable to make any significant progress through the top five runners, finishing down in sixth place, over 50 seconds back from his team-mate after a late stop for fastest lap.

Speaking after the race in Montreal, the Mexican explained how the early Safety Car for George Russell’s clout with the wall at the turns 7/8 chicane “took away” his opportunities of a better result through strategy, given he had started on the hard tyres and couldn’t take advantage of the early disruption – but he was very clear that he was not only missing luck, but more importantly, pace as well:

“I think the safety car basically took all the opportunity away, because it was looking good,” he said. “We risked on that hard tyre, and unfortunately it didn’t pay off.

“Well I feel that there was a little bit more certainly. But we just didn’t have the pace today. We did struggle. I think we got hurt massively with the safety car, that it came at the wrong moment for us. Luck is not with us at the moment, but it’s how it is at the moment.”

Perez said his lack of pace was mainly down to feeling uncomfortable on the car under braking, mentioning how the ride quality in his RB19 “hasn’t been great”. Montreal is a notorious circuit for straining the car’s and driver’s braking abilities, with its long straights and slow hairpins and chicanes providing a big challenge:

“Basically under braking. I think the ride hasn’t been great, so under braking I think was the biggest thing.

“And it is where we think we need to come on top of and make sure that we are able to figure out what’s happening, and then come back strong.”

When asked if he was disappointed not to put more pressure on the two Ferrari drivers who finished directly ahead of him, Perez didn’t hold back in saying that he is “very concerned” about that, and the fact that the team is yet to understand why it happened, and will seek for answers ahead of the Austrian GP next week:

“I’m very, very concerned about that,” he said when asked if he was disappointed in being unable to challenge the two Ferraris. “We just didn’t have the pace, and we don’t understand why, so that’s the weird thing.

“We have to figure out, we’ve got to sit down and look back because we know what we are capable of, and it’s just important to us to understand what’s going on.

“We had a good start to the weekend, but we made some changes with the tyres a little bit different so I don’t know if there’s anything in that.”

Team principal and CEO at Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner said the Mexican would have needed a “reasonable pace offset” to get ahead of the Ferrari drivers, something which he “didn’t have” on Sunday.

Horner believes Perez’s qualifying struggles – the Mexican has failed to reach Q3 in the last three races – are holding him back from showing his true pace and potential during the races, and is confident that his driver will eventually rediscover the good form he showed earlier in the season at the Azerbaijan GP:

I think he just needs a good weekend to just lift his confidence,” said Horner. “He’s had three difficult weekends and three difficult Saturdays that then puts you on the back foot on a Sunday.

“We’ve seen what Checo’s capable of only a month or two ago, I think he just needs to have a strong weekend to find that confidence and then I have no doubt he’ll be back.”

After putting up a respectable fight against Verstappen in the early stages of the season, it now looks likely that Perez won’t be able to put much pressure on the Dutchman on the championship standings, as he now trails his team-mate by a whopping 69 points despite being only 14 points back as recently as the Miami GP.