Sergio Perez saw his F1 2023 title hopes end in the gravel in Qatar, as he now sets his sights on ensuring that Red Bull machinery is not developed away from his liking again.
Perez’s Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen went into the Qatar sprint race knowing that a top-six finish would be enough to confirm his status as a three-time World Champion, though in the end, he did not even need to do that to get the job done.
With Perez caught up in an incident also involving Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg, his race ended in the gravel at Turn 2, meaning Verstappen at this point was a three-time World Champion.
Sergio Perez reacts to bitter end of title hopes
Reflecting on that shunt when speaking to Sky F1, Perez said: “What a shame. I was just in the wrong place with these two guys and ended up taking a lot of damage on my car.
“Just a very frustrating afternoon because I think we had the pace to really go all the way to good points today.
“I think we would all like to be in Max’s position today, but there can only be one winner and he has driven a lot better than anyone else this season and he deserves all the success, so I’m happy for him.
“He worked really hard for it together with all the team and well done to him.”
However, Perez is out to make F1 2024 a “different story” as he looks to mount a fresh title challenge.
On first glance, such a prospect appears extremely unlikely considering Verstappen’s total dominance over the Mexican racer, though Perez said it is now clear within the team that the RB19 was developed away from his liking, triggering this decline after two victories in the opening four rounds.
“I think we are learning a lot as a team on which direction we’re going to take with the car,” said Perez.
“I think just having a more consistent pace throughout the season and having a car that doesn’t change as much through the year will definitely be quite beneficial to be able to be more consistent with the car. I think that will be the key, because of what happened in the first few races.
“As we start to develop the car, I felt like the car went away from me and I had to start chasing always the balance, having to make some compromises here and there.
“But anyway, those details are internally with the team and it’s something that we are all aware of and hopefully next year like I say it can be a different story.”
Perez cannot put full focus into F1 2024 yet though, with Lewis Hamilton now pushing to deny him a P2 finish in the Drivers’ Championship.
A P5 finish for Hamilton in the Qatar sprint means Perez’s advantage is now down to 29 points.