Hoping he’s come out on the right side of a troubled period on the track, Sergio Perez believes his third place in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix proves he is “heading in the right direction”.
Although the start to Perez’s 2023 season saw him taking the fight to Max Verstappen, winning two of the opening four races, it fell apart after the Miami Grand Prix, a race in which he lost to his team-mate despite starting on pole with Verstappen only ninth on the grid.
Whether that was a blow to his confidence, Perez hasn’t said, but in the following five races he never made it into Q3 and only once recovered to reach the podium.
Sergio Perez: I want to get my season back on track
All but mathematically out of the title race after falling 99 points behind Verstappen at the British Grand Prix, Perez finally shrugged off his qualifying hoodoo in Hungary where he was P9 and finished on the podium in third.
He went even better in Friday evening’s qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix where he set the third fastest time behind Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
“I’ve certainly had a rough patch with the car and with my driving style – I’ve been working on it,” he told the media, including PlanetF1.com, in the post-qualy press conference.
“And you know, it’s no different to any other driver out there. I think drivers, we go through these periods where we are just finding our sweet spot. It has happened to anyone.
“But yeah, it’s a long season and like I always say, people only remember where you finished in Abu Dhabi.
“So for me, it’s still a very long season ahead. I want to get my season back on track, but I know, and I’ve done it before, so I think we are heading in the right direction.”
He, however, is wary of going into Sunday’s race “blind” as the drivers haven’t done any high-fuel runs given FP1 was a near wash-out and then the drivers jumped straight into qualifying.
Even Saturday won’t allow for high-fuel runs as it’s the sprint shootout followed by a one-third-distance sprint race.
“I think the biggest concern is come Sunday, because we haven’t done any high fuel,” Perez explained. “We don’t know how the car is going to behave with heavy tanks, the ride, how it will be.
“It’s always a massive concern going into the weekend basically blind.”
Perez will line up P2 on the Belgian Grand Prix grid as a result of Verstappen’s penalty dropping the Dutchman from first to sixth, joined by Leclerc who inherited pole position.
“I will try my best,” Perez replied when asked if he’ll be racing for the win. “I will try to get Charles at the start, which is always hard, but I think it’s also a long race, high deg. So anything can happen on Sunday, but we certainly have a good position,
Asked about his potential tactics for attacking the Ferrari driver and where he’ll most likely try to line up a pass, Perez said: “It doesn’t matter. As long as I get him. That will be my target.”