Sergio Perez did not let his late practice crash take the shine off his “best Friday in a while” at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The Mexican crashed at the fearsome Parabolica corner with around 10 minutes left on the clock in FP2, with Perez’s Red Bull spinning in the gravel before lightly touching the barrier.
It was an unfortunate end to an encouraging day for Perez, who was classified third in both practice sessions on Friday and was a tenth faster than team-mate Max Verstappen on the FP2 timesheets.
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Sergio Perez thrilled with Monza practice pace
Perez’s seat at Red Bull has come under severe threat in recent months in light of an alarming mid-season slump since winning two of the opening four races in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan.
He appeared to steady the ship with consecutive podiums in Hungary and Belgium prior to F1’s summer break, but found himself coming under scrutiny at last weekend’s Dutch GP where he qualified a massive 1.3 seconds behind Verstappen.
Despite his latest wobble at Monza, Perez remains hopeful that the Italian GP can be a turning point in his season after his promising pace in practice.
He told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher: “I understeered off at the exit and tried to keep it nailed. I thought I had it under control, but then I just touched the ground and that was game over.
“The damage doesn’t look too bad, it looks fairly small, so I don’t think we lost anything even there at the end, nothing representative in that regard.
“The positive is that the car is performing well, I’m feeling comfortable with it and I think we are in a good position for the rest of the weekend. I really felt that we had a very strong Friday.
“This has been the best Friday in a while. We’ve been working really hard. I think we found some positive steps in the car so hopefully we can show it tomorrow and Sunday.”
With Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko and team principal Christian Horner divided on the subject of Perez’s future at Zandvoort, rumours have intensified that the team may make a move for McLaren driver Lando Norris, who was classified second in FP2.
On Thursday at Monza, Norris strongly indicated that he would relish the chance to become Verstappen’s team-mate.
“It’s definitely something I would be open to in the future,” Norris said, adding: “I think it’d be great to work alongside someone like that and, at the same time, see where I can really stand against him. I’d be open for it.”