Where was Sergio Perez? Christian Horner explains reason behind poor Aus GP performance

Henry Valantine
Red Bull's Sergio Perez during the Australian Grand Prix

Red Bull's Sergio Perez

Christian Horner revealed that Sergio Perez picked up damage to his Red Bull while passing Fernando Alonso during the Australian Grand Prix.

Perez finished fifth come the chequered flag but had been the driver on the move mid-race, though his progress stalled after passing the Aston Martin driver – and his team principal revealed he damaged his car on his way by the two-time World Champion.

Sergio Perez lost ‘significant amount of downforce’ during Australian GP

Perez had begun the race on the back foot after taking a three-place grid penalty for impeding on Saturday, with the Red Bull driver beginning his race from sixth on the grid.

He made his way by Alonso for fifth during the second stint and was among the fastest cars on track, but in doing so, his team principal revealed he picked up damage to his RB20 that would hinder his progress for the rest of the race.

Both Ferrari and McLaren drivers would end up ahead of Perez come the end of the race, and Horner reserved praise for race winner Carlos Sainz, who recovered from appendix surgery a fortnight ago to take victory at Albert Park.

“I mean, he’s probably not aware of it, but he picked up a bit of damage as soon as he passed or whilst he was passing Fernando,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the race.

“He lost a significant amount of downforce from the floor of the car, so we just need to get the car back to understand exactly what’s caused that.

“As soon as you get that, then your tyre deg gets worse and we were just not good at the end of the stints, which is a bit of an unusual trait for our cars, so we need to understand that.

“I have to congratulate Carlos Sainz today. I mean, after going through surgery, what a great performance by him and, of course, the Ferrari team today.”

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On the other side of the garage, Max Verstappen led off the line but found himself passed by Sainz on the second lap before having to retire, the right rear of his RB20 seeing a blowout on his way into the pit lane.

Expanding on the problem, Horner believes the three-time World Champion took his non-finish in decent spirits after his initial frustration.

“It’s a brake issue,” Horner said. “It looks like the brake is bound on pretty much from the start of the race and that’s why, as Max described, it was like having a handbrake, which caused him to have a couple of moments.

“Then of course, the heat’s building and building and building, and then the resultant fire [happened].

“So the car, obviously we’ve got all the bits back now and going through the damage, and we’ll go through and understand exactly what’s caused it.

“Obviously a driver is going to be frustrated when he gets out of a car from a retirement, but I think he’s been very gracious with the team and all the mechanics.

“We are all one team and that DNF obviously hurts everybody in the same way. So, it’s a matter of learning from it.

“We’ve had two years of no mechanical DNFs, which has been remarkable, so it’s a matter of understanding what’s caused it, learning from it and moving on.

“So, you know, it’s remarkable after three races that he’s still leading the World Championship even with that DNF, but as I say, a lot of lessons taken out of today.”

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