Red Bull’s Imola nightmare continues with late crash in final practice

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez.

Red Bull had help from back at base in their quest for victory at Imola.

Red Bull’s troubled start to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend slumped to a new low in FP3 as Sergio Perez crashed out in the closing minutes of the session.

Red Bull had a difficult Friday at Imola, with Max Verstappen unhappy with the balance of his RB20 and running off track on a number of occasions across the opening two practice sessions.

Red Bull’s Imola woes worsen with Sergio Perez FP3 crash

Verstappen ended the day down in seventh, one position ahead of team-mate Perez, as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc topped both sessions.

Despite the team’s strong track record of recovering from a sub-optimal Friday, Red Bull continued to struggle in Saturday morning’s FP3 session before Perez crashed at the Variante Alta with less than six minutes left on the clock.

Replays showed Perez’s car becoming unsettled after he clouted the kerb on entry to the right-left chicane, with the Mexican driver unable to rescue the incident before sliding into the gravel and making contact with the outside barrier.

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The impact destroyed Perez’s front wing, with Red Bull mechanics facing a repair job ahead of qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Perez’s incident was the second red flag stoppage of the morning session after Fernando Alonso, the Aston Martin driver, earlier lost control on entry to the second Rivazza corner and suffered a rear impact with the wall.

With Perez’s car recovered quickly, the session resumed with two minutes to go with Oscar Piastri heading a McLaren one-two ahead of Miami Grand Prix winner Lando Norris.

Verstappen could only manage sixth, 0.837 seconds off the pace, with Perez sandwiched between the RB cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsuonda in 12th.

Speaking on Friday, Verstappen claimed Saturday “can’t be worse than we had” in FP1 and FP2, admitting he was struggling with the balance of the car.

He said: “A difficult day. Just difficult to get a good balance and just not really feeling comfortable in the car.

“Moving around a lot, it’s very easy to lose the car and a few things that we have to look at. Because today it’s not comfortable.

“Also the long run was really bad. So definitely a few things that we have to improve if we want to be competitive tomorrow.

“We’ll look at a few things that we can do better for tomorrow but it looks a bit like the others took a bit of a step forward and from our side.

“Just a bad day.”

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