Sergio Perez admitted the points Red Bull have lost from the first few races could well prove to be “very costly” later in the season.
Max Verstappen retired from second place in Australia on Sunday for his second retirement in three races and, coupled with Perez’s own DNF in Bahrain, Red Bull find themselves well behind Ferrari and Charles Leclerc in both championships – despite having a car to compete with them at the front.
Leclerc took a dominant victory at Albert Park though, finishing 20 seconds ahead of the Mexican in P2, who felt his tyre degradation contributed to the deficit come the chequered flag, but he also admitted there’s work to be done to get back on pace.
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“We’ve been so unlucky for these first few races,” he told Sky Sports F1 after the race. “It’s nice to be back on the podium, but I think the race didn’t go as planned.
“We had a bit too much degradation on the tyres. I have a pretty good idea at the moment on the things we did wrong, but there’s a good analysis to be made.
“We were quite far from the Ferrari today.
“It’s only race three of the season, so it’s a long way to go. It’s a shame that we lost Max today for the team.
“Especially with Carlos out, it was a good opportunity to close up the gap to Ferrari, but it’s a very long season, and [there is] a lot of work ahead of us.”
Verstappen retired with a fuel leak in Melbourne while running behind Leclerc in the lead, and Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko admitted there will be difficult times ahead if they’re going to compete with Ferrari again.
But Perez is confident that Red Bull’s staff will be able to produce the goods.
“I really trust our people back in Milton Keynes, everyone here at the track is working flat-out and we’ve got to remember that this is a very long season,” he said.
“It’s a big shame, and these points are going to be very costly at some point, but we just have to keep our heads down and keep pushing.
“We have a good car, we were on pole last weekend [in Jeddah], the team won the last race, so we are there.
“But today, fundamentally, we got a few things wrong, and we paid the price – but that’s racing.”
'Frustrating and unacceptable' race for Verstappen
Max Verstappen had his second retirement in three races and he wasn't happy, while Sergio Perez took P2 in Melbourne.