Christian Horner: ‘Nothing went right’ on ‘horrible day’ for Sergio Perez

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull principal Christian Horner in the paddock. Australia, April 2023.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner wearing sunglasses in the paddock.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner admits “nothing went right” on a “horrible day” for Sergio Perez at the Australian Grand Prix.

Perez was arguably the star attraction for very much the wrong reasons on qualifying day at the Australian Grand Prix, his troubles starting in a nightmare FP3 session.

The Red Bull driver would see push lap after push lap fall apart as he struggled to keep the RB19 on the road, and the situation certainly did not get any better come qualifying.

Having complained of an issue with his car being the culprit for those FP3 issues, Perez then argued the fixes had failed as on his first Q1 lap he would lock-up at Turn 3 and head into the gravel, this time getting stuck there as his session ended without a time on the board.

That means Perez will start the Australian Grand Prix from the back of the grid.

With Sky F1 pundit Karun Chandhok branding that showing from Perez “one of the worst days of his F1 career”, Horner replied: “He’s had a horrible day today.

“It started this morning, the car was late off the weighbridge and there were no major issues. And the plan in FP3 was always to run differently to Max [Verstappen], not do a long run, he’s just doing two short runs.

“He never really recovered from FP3 and then this lap which was never going to be really a consequential lap, to unfortunately lock-up and go off.

“We’re just checking all the data to see if there’s something within the engine management that has maybe contributed to that. So, we’re just going through all that data as we speak.

“You saw him grab the brakes a couple of times, lock-up, run deep and run off. He ran off twice in FP3 and on that first lap he’s pushed quite hard and unfortunately run into the gravel and this time not been able to come out the other side.

“So we’re just looking at what has contributed to that and trying to ensure that if there is something, it’s not there tomorrow.”

All Perez can do now then is dust himself down and look to make race day far more positive as he sets about trying to fight through the pack.

Horner accepts though that the events of Saturday will have done little to help Perez’s cause.

Put to him that these woes will surely have knocked Perez’s confidence, Horner said: “Absolutely, and I think that confidence is so crucial and he’s been to that point this weekend.

“Yesterday he looked very, very strong and it was just a horrible session, that first run on the soft tyres, nothing went right for him, then you end up on the back foot, then you end up pushing too hard, then you try and nick a bit in the braking zones and so on. So going into qualifying it wasn’t the ideal build-up for him.” recommends

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It was at least a far more positive story on the other side of the Red Bull garage as Verstappen claimed his second pole of the season, two-tenths up on Mercedes’ George Russell who he will share the front row with.

Horner argued that the key to strong times was getting the tyres into the “right operating window” with low track temperatures and occasional greasy surfaces with drizzle around.

So, with Red Bull and Verstappen also reaping the rewards of an alternate qualifying strategy, Horner hailed “an outstanding job” from their reigning World Champion.

“These conditions have made it incredibly tricky, the temperature, getting these tyres into the right operating window was what it was all about,” said Horner.

“You can see it’s changed the running order a little as different cars have reacted differently to these conditions on this track. So an outstanding job by Max.

“Our strategy was slightly different. We weren’t doing the build lap and push lap, particularly that last one, so it was all about getting the optimum out-lap, getting the temperature that he needed in and then nailing the lap which is exactly what he did.”

Red Bull have not won the Australian Grand Prix since 2011, while Max Verstappen has never claimed the P1 trophy at this event, two narratives which could very well change by the time the chequered flag flies on Sunday.