Sergio Perez has been looking back at his season so far and highlighted the Monaco Grand Prix as the highlight of his “7/10” campaign.
Now in his second season with Red Bull, the Mexican seems to have improved his understanding of the car and has 63 more points this campaign than he did after the same number of races in 2021.
Yet there is a feeling of what could have been currently hanging over Perez. Following his maiden win around the streets of Monaco, there was a sense that Perez, rather than Charles Leclerc, would provide the most realistic challenge to Max Verstappen’s chances of retaining the Drivers’ Championship.
But his hopes faded away and at the same rate Verstappen’s performances improved, Perez’s declined. Since the Monaco Grand Prix, he has as many podium finishes as he does DNFs and has finished outside out of the top three in the last two races.
Perez, who was ranked sixth on our top 10 drivers of the season so far, was asked by his team to score his season so far out of 10 and replied “7/10.”
“I’m looking forward to some rest, it’s been an intense season,” the Mexican said. “But you can only disconnect for a week or so and then back into it. We’ve got a lot of work to do because the second half of the season is going to be very intense. We have to keep delivering.
“I couldn’t have imagined we would be where we are at that point [following Red Bull’s double DNF at the start of the season]. It’s great to have the team where it is at the moment, but we cannot take anything for granted.”
¡Buena recuperación en carrera!
Excelente resultado de todo el equipo. Bien hecho @redbullracing @Max33Verstappen ahora a descansar y regresar más fuertes para la última parte del año.
Los voy a extrañar en mis vacaciones… un poco. pic.twitter.com/8IgkhCBcwf
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) July 31, 2022
At the end of June, Damon Hill suggested Red Bull had changed the RB18’s set-up in order to favour Verstappen’s driving style over Perez but the Mexican insisted he felt “much more comfortable” in this year’s car as opposed to last year’s
“The RB18 is a very different car to last year’s, but I’m much more comfortable in this car as you can see with the performances and consistency that we’ve had so far this season.
“It’s good to have something already and it’s good to have a plan [with the new contract], it’s great to be working with the team. I feel much more settled this year, I’m happy in the team, I’m much more comfortable.”
Poor qualifying form proving to be Sergio Perez’s downfall
When analysing a driver’s run of form, it is often too easy to look at their recent race results but in Perez’s case, the true cause of concern does not come on the Sunday but rather it is the qualifying session on Saturday which is currently hampering his ability to perform in the grand prix.
At the start of the 2022 campaign, Perez was one of the best qualifiers and finished no lower than third in the first four races, including his first ever pole in Saudi Arabia. But gradually, that form began to slip away.
In Miami, he was fourth, in Spain fifth and in Canada he lost control of the car on a wet surface and crashed in Q2 meaning he started in 13th.
That result could be seen as the start of Perez’s current run of form which has failed to see him qualify on the front row and has twice seen him exit in Q2.
Perez has then had a lot of work to do in the race itself and in the 32-year-old’s defence, he has proven to have the ability to regain on the Sunday what he lost on the Saturday having gained a combined seven places in the races he has finished since Canada.
While Red Bull are not asking Perez to out-qualify Verstappen (the Dutchman has started higher on 10 of the 13 occasions this season), they will want the Mexican to give himself the best possible chance on Sunday and that can only come with better performances on the Saturday.
Verstappen laughing all the way to a 2nd title
Max Verstappen has driven superbly, but has also had a helping hand from Ferrari along the way.