Sergio Perez revealed that a Red Bull RB19 upgrade introduced for the Spanish GP was one he struggled to adapt to, allowing Max Verstappen to pull away.
It quickly became apparent that Red Bull would take some serious stopping in F1 2023, but initially it seemed like their drivers could put on a title battle, with Verstappen and Perez taking two wins apiece in the opening four rounds.
From Monaco though it started to unravel for Perez, who after crashing out in Q1, went on a streak of Q3 absences and suffered a run of just one podium finish in five outings.
Sergio Perez names Spanish GP as “turning point”
While the Mexican racer has now gone some way to steadying the ship, Verstappen retains a sizeable advantage in both qualifying and race pace, with his lead over Perez at the top of the Drivers’ Championship now standing at 145 points, having reeled off 10 victories in a row.
Asked by Auto Motor und Sport why starting a season strong and then dropping off is seemingly a trend of his Red Bull career, Perez replied: “Most of the time it was because the car suited me at the beginning of the season. Everything came about naturally.
“Then came the moment when I had to think more about how to drive the car to be fast. That set me back. This year Barcelona was the turning point.
“I couldn’t explain the accident [in Monaco]. And then when I came to Barcelona a few days later, I felt like I was driving a different car.”
Expanding further on that feeling, Perez said that an RB19 upgrade in Barcelona knocked him off course, though he accepts the blame having not adapted quickly enough.
“There was an upgrade on the car,” Perez continued, “but it would be too easy to just blame it on that.
“The engineers themselves struggle to explain how this or that modification to the aerodynamics changed this or that driving characteristic, that one of the drivers might struggle with [more] than the other.
“They bring in upgrades to make the car faster. It did get faster. It’s just that I found it harder to drive the car.
“That has happened to other drivers as well. Because a certain characteristic doesn’t suit your driving style, then you have to adapt. I didn’t manage to do that as quickly as I should have.”
Turning his current P2 spot in the Drivers’ Championship into his F1 2023 finishing position is now the goal for Perez, which would deliver Red Bull their first one-two finish in the standings.