Sergio Perez explains latest qualifying nightmare with Red Bull ‘pressure really on’

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez grimaces in the garage at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez grimaces in the garage at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.

Sky F1 pundit Naomi Schiff believes “the pressure is really on” Sergio Perez after the Red Bull driver’s latest qualifying shocker at the Qatar Grand Prix.

After a disastrous race in Japan last time out, in which he incurred two separate time penalties before suffering his first retirement of the season, Perez was eliminated in Q2 in Lusail after his last flying lap was deleted.

The Mexican has now failed to reach Q3 in eight of the 17 rounds held in 2023, having gone five successive races without a top-10 start between Monaco and Silverstone earlier this season.

Sergio Perez under mounting pressure at Red Bull after Qatar qualifying shocker

Perez’s mid-season implosion has seen his seat alongside Max Verstappen come under severe scrutiny in recent months, though Red Bull have been insistent that the 33-year-old – whose contract expires at the end of 2024 – will not be moved on before the start of next season.

However, Schiff fears a number of drivers will now be targeting Perez’s seat – and pointed out that his recovery drives on race day only happen because he qualifies so poorly.

She said: “He makes the places up because he’s got the car that’s supposed to be at the front to begin with.

“He’s qualifying out of position, most of the time [it’s] his own fault, and I think at this part of the season he’s really wanting to prove to the team why he deserves that second seat at Red Bull because I can guarantee you that there’s so many drivers who are either in the paddock or are out of this paddock at the moment who would love to have a seat at Red Bull.

“Checo is not there for no reason and no driver is on the grid in Formula 1 for no reason, but he has been making a lot of mistakes and I think for him the pressure really is on.

“I think some of these mistakes also come from being under pressure and sometimes overdriving.” recommends

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Having recovered from poor grid positions to the podium in Austria and Hungary prior to F1’s summer break, Perez is hopeful that he can bounce back in Sunday’s race – but admits that the low-grip conditions in Qatar may count against him.

“It was quite difficult, I struggled a lot for balance,” he told Formula 1 of his qualifying session.

“Basically we had so many issues that I just couldn’t fix any of them. Every corner was pretty much different, I think the conditions are very difficult though, but I just struggled a lot today.

“It’s not over. It’s obviously going to be very difficult to pass, especially with the track conditions that we currently have, but we’ll see what we are able to do and recover from there.”

Perez’s woes mean team-mate Verstappen is almost certain to secure his third successive World Championship at some stage in Qatar, with the Dutchman requiring a sixth-place finish in Saturday’s sprint race to clinch the crown.

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