Sergio Perez identifies key reason for latest Max Verstappen mismatch in Canada

Henry Valantine
Sergio Perez arrives at the circuit. Canada June 2023.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez arrives on press day in Montreal. Canada June 2023.

Sergio Perez believes a slower-than-ideal move to slick tyres in Q2 cost him a place in Q3 on Saturday, after another early exit from qualifying.

It was the Red Bull driver’s second Q2 exit in a row and represents another blow to his World Championship chances, with the Mexican qualifying a disappointing P12 while team-mate Max Verstappen went on to take pole position at a wet Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Williams’ Alex Albon took a risk and started Q2 on slick tyres, which proved to be an inspired decision as he went fastest of anybody in the second part of qualifying – while Perez and others were caught out by not moving quickly enough to dry tyres.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was among them, who also dropped out of qualifying in Q2, with the pair set to share the sixth row of the grid on Sunday prior to any grid penalties being applied elsewhere.

Perez reasoned that the return of rain late on in Q2 saw the drivers return to intermediates, and a lack of the correct track position among other factors stopped him from putting in a lap time quick enough to make it into the top 10 on Saturday.

“Pretty much,” Perez admitted to Sky Sports F1 when asked if the tyre selection in Q2 hindered his chances.

“Once we went on to the slick tyre, track position wasn’t great, we were probably half a lap late and once the temperature was on the tyre then we just couldn’t get it through.

“It was raining harder and I was stuck behind the Alfa Romeo, so that second lap when things were getting better, it was raining harder. So we went back on the inter and it started raining even harder.”

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With Verstappen again making the most of his machinery on the other side of the garage, taking pole position by more than a second from Nico Hulkenberg, the pressure is on the Red Bull driver if he is to keep in touch with his team-mate on Sunday.

That said, he admitted he should have qualified further up the grid.

“I think definitely we could have been a lot higher, definitely I think into the top three,” he said.

“You know with these conditions, it was a bit of a lottery. Again into Q3 we saw the same, you know, like people not being able to get that second lap when the tyres are at their best, so it was a bit tricky for us.”