‘Sergio Perez wasn’t right blaming Australia qualifying exit on Red Bull car issue’

Oliver Harden
Sergio Perez in the garage. Melbourne, March 2023.

Sergio Perez in the Red Bull garage.

F1 journalist Peter Windsor believes Sergio Perez was disingenuous to point to a problem with his Red Bull Formula 1 car after his qualifying disaster at the Australian Grand Prix.

Having converted pole position into victory at the previous race in Saudi Arabia, Perez arrived in Melbourne talking up his 2023 title chances but had a day to forget on Saturday.

After multiple off-track adventures in final practice, Perez locked up and beached the RB19 in the Turn 3 gravel before he had even set a lap time in Q1, leaving him at the bottom of the qualifying order. Perez later referenced an “issue” Red Bull thought they had fixed in time for qualifying.

Opting to start the race from the pit lane having taken new engine parts, Perez mounted a recovery to fifth on race day as team-mate Max Verstappen claimed his second win in three.

While admitting an engine settings glitch hampered his driver in FP3, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko insisted it had been resolved ahead of qualifying and suggested Perez’s “insecure and impetuous” reaction contributed to his own downfall in Q1.

And speaking via his YouTube channel, Windsor – bemused that Perez won the fan vote for the Driver of the Day award in Australia – has pointed the finger at the Mexican for attempting to deflect the blame.

He said: “Sergio Perez got Driver of the Day probably because, visually, coming through the field, finishing where he did [was] not too bad.

“But what was he doing coming through the field? He should have been on the front row anyway.

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“[After qualifying] Sergio [was] saying there was something wrong with the car, they didn’t fix it, the brake locking before qualifying happened again in qualifying.

“The team, in the same press release, said, ‘we will be checking the car over and if there is anything wrong we will of course put it right’ – emphasis on the word ‘if’ for sure, and so it proved.

“They changed the brake pads in parc ferme but I spoke to a couple of the engineers and they both said absolutely nothing wrong with the car whatsoever.

“So Sergio, I think, [was] incorrect in saying that to the press, but that’s how he is and at the end of the day there was nothing wrong with that car.”

Windsor feels that Perez should have been in position to protect Verstappen from the attack of the Mercedes drivers on race day, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton both leading early on.

“It was a really, really good race car and it should have started from the front row,” he said of Perez’s RB19.

“And it should have been there as a bit of a cushion when Max had Lewis behind him at the restart, everybody on the soft tyre.

“But he wasn’t.

“He was there and he was climbing through the field getting the Driver of the Day award.

“If you’re going to give it to a Red Bull driver, give it Max Verstappen. Why wasn’t he Driver of the Day?”