Sergio Perez makes major admission as he battles for Red Bull future

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez grimaces as he prepares for the start of the Miami Grand Prix. Miami, May 2023.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez grimaces as he prepares for the start of the Miami Grand Prix. Miami, May 2023.

Sergio Perez has confessed that he has been overdriving in his desperation to climb out of his wretched run of form in the Red Bull.

Perez made his best-ever start to a season by winning two of the opening four races of 2023 to emerge as a potential title contender, but has suffered a dramatic loss of form in recent weeks.

The Mexican has not qualified inside the top 10 since starting from pole position in Miami on May 7 – a run of more than two months and five races – and has reached Q3 at just four of the 10 rounds so far in 2023. He currently sits 99 points adrift of team-mate Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ standings.

Monaco mistake hurt Sergio Perez’s confidence in RB19

Despite holding a contract until the end of 2024, Red Bull’s decision to replace Nyck de Vries with Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri has been widely interpreted as a ploy to increase the pressure on Perez to perform.

Addressing the media ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Perez admitted he has been pushing too hard in recent months after his early qualifying crash in Monaco knocked his confidence in the RB19 car, with a run of rain-affected qualifying sessions in Spain, Canada and Britain exacerbating his issues.

Asked directly if he has been guilty of overdriving, he said: “Yeah, certainly when you’re not fully confident with the car.

“I think what happened in Monaco probably brought me a step back and it has taken me some time to fully trust the car the way I was doing it. And then you have the external factor of the changeable conditions and then there’s a bit more of a discrepancy.

“The deficit that I’ve been experiencing with the car in the last few races, whenever there is a change of condition, it tends to to get wider, this limit. So that’s been something that has caught us out. In the last five races really, there have been some change in condition in qualifying so that has really put us on the back foot.”

Despite his poor run of qualifying results, Perez has insisted that raw performance is not a worry having qualified on the front row on the grid for the sprint race in Austria earlier this month. That came after he had been classified a lowly 15th in the Friday qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring, where he saw several lap times deleted due to track limits breaches.

“No, it’s not a concern,” Perez explained. “I think when you look at those five qualifyings, there’s always been a different situation, external situation that we haven’t dealt as good as we should have dealt with them. But there has always been some external factor and it hasn’t been pure pace, let’s put it that way.”

Despite Ricciardo’s strong performance for Red Bull in a recent Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone – where, according to reports, his fastest lap would have been good enough for a place on the front row at the British GP – Perez is taking solace from the fact that he is the incumbent.

And, following the axing of Nyck de Vries, he claimed that armchair experts do not appreciate the pressure exerted on Red Bull’s F1 drivers.

He said: “It’s in my hands, correct, so that’s why I’m focused on [myself].

“I am the first one, I’m a winner, I don’t like having bad weekends. It’s not what I’m here for, I would rather be at home doing something else. I’m here because I know that I can do it, I’ve done it before and people just on the sofa forget how [little breathing room] we have.

“You’ve seen it with other drivers, other teams. They’ve had difficult periods, but then they don’t have 20 replacements after a session like they do with the Red Bull drivers.” recommends

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After working closely with Red Bull in the buildup to the Hungarian GP, Perez is hopeful that his fortunes will change in Budapest this weekend.

He said: “We’ve been doing some good work with engineers over the week and we have some ideas for here. Hopefully we are able to in general have a better platform where we can be more comfortable and if there is a change of conditions then we don’t have such such a difference.

“Nothing has [an instant impact] in F1, as we know. At the same time, we just have to look back at my season and if I’m second in the World Championship, it’s for a reason.

“I’ve had a rough patch, it’s true, but I also had a great start to the season. So you’re just balancing out, looking at those races, what works, and looking at those bad races what didn’t and just make sure that we make progress weekend after weekend.

“I’m confident. I have done my work, I’ve done my preparation and I’m ready to deliver a strong weekend. That’s all I can do.”

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