The glaring Sergio Perez shortcomings exposed in Fernando Alonso battle

Oliver Harden
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin and Sergio Perez, Red Bull

Aston Martin and Red Bull.

F1 commentator Peter Windsor believes Sergio Perez’s limited abilities in attack and his struggles to drive an imperfect Red Bull car were both exposed in his Brazilian Grand Prix battle with Fernando Alonso.

Perez and Alonso were involved in one of the most thrilling on-track battles of the F1 2023 season at Interlagos where Perez, recovering from ninth on the grid, chased the Aston Martin driver for the final podium spot.

The Mexican appeared to have grabbed third place with a move into Turn 1 on the penultimate lap, but was repassed on the final tour as Alonso used DRS to reclaim the position into Turn 4.

Sergio Perez under the microscope after Fernando Alonso Brazil battle

Former title-winning Williams team manager Windsor believes the reaction to the battle has been overblown, claiming Perez lacks skill in attack compared to the likes of Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.

Appearing via his YouTube channel, he said: “What nobody seems to be saying is that Perez has never been any good in attack.

“He is what he is as a racing driver, obviously very good by most standards, but if you’re talking about comparing him with other excellent drivers on the grid – Max as a good example – he’s never been very good in attack.

“He’s always been very good in defence. He’s a difficult guy to overtake, always has been, because he’s so good at the way he puts the power down and his feel for traction at the back end of the car.

“He’s makes very few errors coming out of corners and he’s a difficult guy to overtake, but because he’s not a short-corner driver like Max and because he’s tries not to be a long-corner driver like Yuki Tsunoda – and because he doesn’t really know what he is going into corners apart from a late breaker who gets the car into the corner so he can get on the power – I think that’s why he’s not very good in attack.

“He was completely confused by Fernando and what Fernando was doing with his lines. He’s vee-ing the car most of the time but defending as Fernando would, a natural racer; as Charles Leclerc would; as Lewis Hamilton would; as obviously Max would.

“Perez just couldn’t do anything about it. And when he finally got past it was such a massive thing for him that he just fell asleep. He [thought]: ‘Done it’ – and then just left the door open for Fernando!

“Massive mistake, which of course not many other great drivers would do, but I think that’s what happened there.

“If this battle had been Alonso/Verstappen, Alonso/Hamilton, Alonso/Leclerc, I think we could get truly excited about it, but because it was Alonso/Perez, I think we need always to bear that in mind.”

With Verstappen setting a new record with his 17th victory of 2023 in Brazil, albeit only eight seconds ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris at the chequered flag, Windsor feels the Red Bull RB19 was not in its usual sweetspot in Brazil.

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He claimed that compromised Perez in his battle with Alonso, with the Mexican less equipped than Verstappen to coax performance out of an imperfect car.

He explained: “Alonso is a faster racing driver than Sergio Perez. Nobody’s ever doubted that, have they? He’s very, very good. I think the Aston Martin was possibly a more drivable, chuckable car than the Red Bull and Fernando was making good use of that.

“But more importantly, because the Red Bull was a little bit on the edge in terms of tyres, in terms of balance, then Perez is not going to be the driver that’s going to get the absolute maximum from that car. He’s going to drive a little bit within what he knows the car can do and I think that’s what we saw, to be honest.

“I just think we saw Perez doing a Perez job in a slightly imperfect Red Bull and the reason I say that is because when Lando set fastest lap, normally Max would respond. And he didn’t, because they were pretty much on the edge at Red Bull.

“The McLaren was a good car. I think, more than anything, this highlighted the quality of Max’s drive – that he beat Lando Norris in a very, very good McLaren. I think McLaren was probably the best car in Brazil.

“And if that’s the case – and let’s say the Red Bull’s at 90 per cent rather than 95 per cent – then Perez is the guy that’s going to feel that more than Max Verstappen, for sure. I think that’s what we saw also in that battle with Fernando.”

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