Nico Rosberg identifies the main ‘problem’ as Sergio Perez’s Red Bull woes continue

Oliver Harden
Sergio Perez walks away from his stricken Red Bull RB19 after crashing out of FP1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Sergio Perez walks away from his stricken Red Bull RB19 after crashing out of FP1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Nico Rosberg, the 2016 World Champion, fears Sergio Perez is being consumed by “self-doubt” after his “downward spiral” continued in Friday practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Pressure has been rising on Perez after a run of five straight races without a Q3 appearance, with Red Bull’s move to place Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri for the rest of 2023 widely interpreted as a direct threat to the Mexican’s seat.

Having claimed on Thursday that he was “confident” of an improved performance in Hungary after “doing some good work” with his engineers, Perez crashed on his first lap of practice at the Hungaroring on Friday.

Nico Rosberg empathises with Sergio Perez situation

Appearing on Sky Sports’ television coverage of the final practice session on Saturday in Budapest, Rosberg claimed Perez is facing a tough psychological challenge.

He said: “Every sportsperson will know those phases when you’re just in such a dark hole and you’re struggling to get out of it and it just keeps getting longer and longer. We’ve all had that, I’ve had that for sure and Sergio’s in that now. It’s really, really difficult.

“He keeps on making more errors. Yesterday, that was a big one. He needs to find a way out of that and the pressure is getting even bigger because now they put Daniel Ricciardo as a backup to his position there already. It’s a difficult moment.

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“The problem is self-doubt creeps in. You start to worry: ‘Hey, I’m just not going to be able to do this anymore, I’m struggling here, what’s going on?’

“You start to get scared as well and so it’s really like a downward spiral because it takes away capacity then also from you actually driving the car properly, because you’re thinking about all these things all the time. So it’s a big challenge.”

Danica Patrick, the former IndyCar star, urged Perez to keep trusting the process in order to rediscover his confidence.

She explained: “You have these happen in your career and so I’m sure that this has happened at some other point in his career, maybe even a couple of times where you have to pull yourself out, you have to find the confidence.

“And if it was that easy to say here’s the formula, we would rarely have very long lulls, but the truth is that he just has to stay diligent and stay at it and at some point in time it will take a turn.

“The question is: how much longer is this sort of mode going to go on for him and what will the repercussions of that be?”

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