Helmut Marko presents Sergio Perez theory after ‘painful’ Canadian Grand Prix

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez in the Red Bull garage looking perplexed

Sergio Perez in the Red Bull garage looking perplexed

Failing to make it out of Q1 in Montreal, and retiring from the Canadian Grand Prix, Helmut Marko says it’s not the car causing Sergio Perez’s problems, it is “more psychological”.

Although Perez made a solid start to this year’s championship where he was thrice runner-up to Max Verstappen in the opening four races, he’s bagged just one top three result in last five Grands Prix.

Helmut Marko points the finger after Sergio Perez’s Canadian woes

But it is perhaps his qualifying form that is the biggest concern with the driver not featuring in the pole position shoot-out in three successive qualifying sessions. And in the last two, Monaco and Montreal, he didn’t even make it out of Q1 where he was P16 in both.

The Mexican driver, fresh from signing a new two-year extension with Red Bull, called his latest qualifying a “total disaster” and blamed his RB20.

“The main thing was really to switch on the rear,” he said. “The rear axle for me was quite tricky. “And ended up paying the price.

“Basically, I just had no grip, I was sliding too much around it and that meant that our qualifying was a total disaster.”

His weekend went from bad to worse as he retired from Sunday’s race when he spun off on Lap 53 and damaged his rear wing, before managing to limp back to the pit lane to retire the car.

He was later hit with a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Spain after the stewards ruled he continued for the remainder of that lap with a “significantly damaged car” that “lost several carbon fibre parts on the way back to the pits.”

Red Bull were also fined €25,000 with the stewards revealing the team confirmed “the hearing that the driver had been advised to bring the car back to the pits as they were trying to avoid a Safety Car situation.

“The Stewards determine that, as well as a financial penalty for the team, a sporting penalty is necessary due to the safety implications of the incident.”

Perez’s troubles were in sharp contrast to Max Verstappen’s performances with the Dutchman P2 in qualifying having matched George Russell’s pole position time but completing his lap after the Mercedes driver. He went onto win the Grand Prix, his sixth win of the season.

As such Marko insists the issue is not the car, it’s in Perez’s mind.

“It’s not the car, you can see that with Max. I think it’s more psychological,” he told ServusTV. “When the conditions change, he finds it much more difficult. But the fact that it’s already the third time is painful.”

The Red Bull team-mates 2024 head-to-head stats

👉F1 2024: Head-to-head qualifying record between team-mates

👉F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

As for Perez, he held up his hand after his DNF when he admitted it was his “mistake”.

“I did a mistake going into Turn 6, I just touched the wet patch and once you do that it’s really game over, and unfortunately that’s what happened,” said Perez.

“Very tough weekend, but I think there is a long season ahead and we will be back to our form that we had earlier.”

Last season Perez began working with a psychologist after he crashed in Monaco, that leading to a huge qualifying slump.

“I think certainly after Monaco I lost some confidence,” he told media including PlanetF1.com. “Because the way that my crash happened I did lose a bit of confidence with the car and that put me back.

“I have my psychologist and that’s something that I work on.”

Back inside the top ten in qualifying for the Hungarian GP, Perez recovered to finish the season P2 behind Verstappen.

This year, though, he’s down in P5 with 107 points on the board where he trails Verstappen, who continues to lead the standings as he chases a fourth successive World title, by 87.

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