Red Bull lament another instance of Sergio Perez’s ‘Achilles Heel’

Michelle Foster
Red Bull's Sergio Perez at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez has been told to leave the team.

Once again failing to make it into Q3, Christian Horner concedes qualifying is Sergio Perez’s “Achilles Heel” with the driver set to line up P13 on the Qatar grid.

On a tricky Friday night with all the drivers having to contend with the sand and wind, Perez was one of several high-profile drivers to fall foul of the race stewards’ track limit regulations.

Putting in the laps in Q2, he set a time that was quick enough to make it into the final segment only to lose that for exceeding track limits at Turn 5.

Sergio Perez failed to make it into Q3 in Qatar

With his second fastest time not quick enough for a Q3 berth, Perez once again found himself outside of the top ten on a night in which his team-mate Max Verstappen grabbed pole position.

The deficit, even before the lost lap time, was hard to explain for Horner with Perez’s second best time almost a second slower than his team-mate’s time.

“Obviously the delta between the two of them is difficult to explain at the moment,” the Red Bull team boss told Sky Sports.

“It was a shame for Checo. He made it to Q3 and then lost a lap time. So again Max getting the job done, a tough one for Checo.”

Perez will line up 13th on Sunday with Verstappen on pole position.

“I think it’s mentally a tough game,” added Horner. “All top-line sport is. And when you’re going up against a driver like Max and with the pressure that comes with it, that pressure only intensifies.

“I think Checo, we know what he’s capable of and we know that he’s a great racer and qualifying is always his Achilles heel.

“So we’ve just got to try and support him through these difficult moments to make sure that he comes back strong tomorrow and of course in the race on Sunday.”

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Perez’s troubles coupled with Verstappen’s prowess means all the latter needs is three points in Saturday’s Sprint race and he’ll wrap up the World title no matter what his team-mate does.

“For Checo, it’s a tough moment for him,” conceded Horner. “He’s an experienced guy. He has all the pressure on his shoulders that mounts from being in one of the hottest seats in Formula 1. But I’m sure that he’ll respond to that.

“We just need to support him as a team and try and do the best to get the most out of him and make sure he finishes in that second place in the championship.”

Despite being very much under fire in the media, Red Bull insist Perez will remain Verstappen’s team-mate for the 2024 season.

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