Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Horner praises Perez’s “very calm head” after taking fifth place from pit lane start

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Sergio Perez’s performance in his first race for the team in Bahrain, saying he showed a “very calm head” when his car broke down on the formation lap.

Perez was able to re-fire the car and start the race for the pit lane. From there he raced through the field to salvage fifth place.

“I think his drive today was very mature,” said Horner. “He showed his experience.

“He had an issue obviously on the on the warm-up lap, but he kept a very calm head. We lost all communication with the car, and he took control of the situation. He rebooted the car, effectively, got it going.

“I think his recovery drive was very strong. So it’s very useful for him to get the time in the seat and get more used to the car. And I think his overtaking, his pace was very strong. So that’s encouraging for him.”

F1’s tightest-ever pre-season testing restrictions this year meant Perez only drove the car on six days prior to Sunday’s race. Almost all of that took place in Bahrain, where high winds and severe tyre degradation make it harder for teams to conduct development running.

Perez said that had made it difficult for him to work on the areas where he was losing lap time to team mate Max Verstappen.

“The positive or the negative is that I [only] lose the time in two corners,” he said. “But here the way that the wind is changing and given that you just get a single lap, it hasn’t been easy to make that progression. The wind is changing all the time and so on, but we can see that progression is being made.”

In qualifying, Perez narrowly failed to make the cut for Q3, and was due to line up 11th on the grid, 10 places behind Verstappen, when his car failed.

“There are some specific problems related to the way I’m driving the car,” he explained. “I have to adjust my driving to the car.

“First I need to make sure that I’m driving the way the car needs to be driven, and then work from there. But it’s taking me a while because it’s very different to what I’m used to.”

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30 comments on “Horner praises Perez’s “very calm head” after taking fifth place from pit lane start”

  1. He definitely wasn’t struggling like Gasly when overtaking slower cars or Albon last season.
    As Marko said about the former: “He has problems in traffic, loses positions and cannot overtake”
    I hope, Perez would regularly qualify in the top four and stay there so that he wouldn’t constantly have to make passing anyway.

    1. @jerejj

      This year’s Red Bull, especially the Honda engine, is considerably faster than the rest of the field sans the Merc. Gasly and Albon didn’t have that kind of advantage so in fairness, I am not at all surprised that Perez had an easier time in traffic.

      I still expect him to be closer to Max than the previous two but I feel like his charge from the back is more down to the car than the driver.

      1. He won the Sakhir Grand Prix after dropping to last place on the first lap, in a Racing Point. The guy can drive, and he can pass. To put his performance in Bahrain down to the Red Bull is to under estimate Perez’s ability.

        1. @formulales

          The Sakhir Grand Prix was 80+ laps of DRS and flat-out straights. His win was impressive but contextually speaking, the unique layout of the track and his car’s straight line advantage means it’s one of the few places where you can mount a comeback like that.

      2. Disagree with this: red bull was significantly faster than other cars except mercedes and ferrari in some of the last years, perez would’ve done the same, it’s called bare minimum with that car to go back from last to 5th in these circumstances, albon and gasly were not capable to do that.

      3. @marinatedmonolith Wrong, Red Bull in 2019 (as well as the two preceding seasons) was one of three teams considerably ahead of the rest on pure pace and one of two last year, so Gasly and Albon had an equally considerable car advantage over most competitors.
        @esploratore Indeed.

        1. @jerejj

          Well, obviously no. The Honda engine alone is already much improved from last year, and Max’s pole time was seven-tenths quicker than the closest non-Mercedes car even with the minor damage he sustained in the earlier part of the qualifying. This is even before we get to the high rake/low rake issue and change in the regulations, which has already been mentioned as affecting Red Bull less than some others.

          It’s plainly disingenuous to say that this year’s Red Bull is just as equally fast as the previous years’ when compared to the rest of the field. Besides, Perez himself has stated that it will take him up to five races to get fully comfortable with the car and I’m inclined to believe him.

          Honestly, I think this speaks more to people’s alarmingly low expectations of Perez that they were so quick to lavish praise on him for something the car is entirely capable of doing. I personally think he’s capable of more.

    2. @jerejj – agreed. Not sure Checo’s race craft has ever been doubted though and good to see his style seems to translate to the red bull car too.

  2. I’m feeling optimistic about Perez’s chances this year. A lot of people had written him off after Saturday but I don’t think it was indicative of what we can expect from him.

    I think it’s unlikely we’ll see him qualify ahead of Verstappen often, if at all, but I do think he’ll be close enough to make a difference in the races, and after Sunday’s race we can all see how important the team game is going to be this year.

    1. A lot of people had written him off after Saturday

      Not sure why, @sparkyamg. I’ve seen those sentiments written off, but do not understand why.
      Perez was just over 0.3s behind Verstappen (and new to the car).
      Sainz was further off Leclerc, and Tsunoda further off Gasly, and neither was ‘written off’.

      Also Ocon, Vettel, Mazepin, Latifi, and even Raikkonen were further off their teammates.
      But I can’t say that I didn’t see ‘written off’ stories about them :P

      All in all only 2 teams had drivers closer together than Perez was to Verstappen.

      1. @coldfly

        Indeed! It was hardly a disastrous qualifying from a pace point of view given the circumstances you’ve mentioned.

    2. As long as he is to Verstappen what Bottas is to Hamilton, we should have some great races this year with 2 Mercedes vs 2 RedBull. I also think that RedBull is more daring in those situations to split and be aggressive on strategies, Mercedes is more conservative to give equal treatment. Hasn’t been a big trouble until now when fighting a single RedBull but it might change this year.

  3. Cristiano Ferreira
    30th March 2021, 8:45

    Promising start for Perez despite all the problems he faced. He just needs to harass Bottas / Mercedes so they can’t dictate strategy like the last 2 seasons. Perez needs to be successful in this task if he wants to drive for Red Bull for more than one season.

    1. Keep in mind perez is no gasly or albon, if they replace him they better have a top driver cause otherwise they’re just worsening their current line-up.

  4. Perez is a safe pair of hands for Red Bull.

    I’m relishing seeing Checo and Max go head-to-head in future races. That could be VERY interesting!

    1. Promising start of Checo indeed. I am personally not into the Checo hype (not convinced he is star material) but as long as he brings what Gasly and Albon couldn’t.. I hope and wish him all the best to help bringing a stop to the F1 borefest

      1. Davethechicken
        30th March 2021, 13:07

        I agree. He is an F1 journeyman, as I posted last year I would rate about 5 or 6 drivers on the current grid higher.

  5. Judging anyone on one race weekend is not fair anyway, by and large there were more positives than negatives for me though. The failure to get into Q3 was unfortunate and that was compounded with the gremlins on the foundation lap but his drive in the race was fine. Hopefully he’ll have a few more simple races that give us more meaningful information.

  6. This was a free hit. On one hand he recovered well. On the other hand he needed to recover well, and missed Q3. On to Italy now where I’m sure things will go a bit smoother for him and he can hopefully help Max manage at the front a bit better. All in all a satisfactory-ish debut.

    1. True that, as someone who actually likes perez as a driver, going from bottom to 5th with a red bull with the current power levels (mercedes & red bull >> everyone) was the bare minimum, albon and gasly would’ve failed to do that and it’d have been a negative imo.

  7. I agree with the general sentiment above. Not an ideal weekend but he made the best of it in the end, and there was always going to be some teething issues and may be a few yet too after SP himself said he’d need 5 races to fully gel.

    I think he showed that he’ll be a good add to the team and he also confirmed what Max has shown which is that the car is much more competitive now.

    1. Let’s give SP some recognition that he is correct and 5 races will be needed to really get comfortable with the car. If this is the result from one race weekend, by mid season we should be in for some great entertainment.
      Lots of chatter that the car is fast, everyone else is slow and last to 5th is a predictable result. Maybe so, but he still needed to execute around 20 overtakes.
      As far as I have seen, he didn’t run into anyone, didn’t smash the car on a curb, no spins, no track limits violations, no penalties and no one waving a fist at him. Not bad for a first outing.

      1. LOL..Checo misses Q3 again next time round then what? people keep saying he was .3 sec off Verstappen..Verstappen cocked up in Q2. Checo has a better car than Albon and Red Bull know it. There is a reason why Maclaren and Aston let him Checo go. They can see the data and he is no Max or Hami or even Bottas. The one thing he does have is fanboys a bit like Kubica. I’m not sure why. Remember Max only got one pole in the whole of last year and it was close run between him and Bottas! Whereas here Max got pole by a mile. Albon was .3 behind and in 5th position when Max was on pole. The red bull seems faster this year so more is expected and honestly there can be no excuses for missing Q3 in that car. Besides Red Bull are looking for the next Max, the next Hami, not the next journeyman F1 driver. Checo’s qualif was underwhelming. His performance in FP was underwhelming.. He needs to put that car in P1,P2 alongside Max..P4 isnt even good enough when Max is dominating practice by miles.

        1. It’s all in how one spins the story. Another example is Max has been with RB for many years and with the fastest car under him and still could not overtake Lewis on older compound and slower car. If you look at it like this losing that race is completely unacceptable from what is said to be a generational talent.

          It was Max race to win. Same old story with him. Fast over one lap but so was Maldonado. I don’t see Max beating LH anytime soon his race craft needs work.

          1. Hahaha, this comment belongs to 3 years ago. Have you seen any races since 2016?

  8. Davethechicken
    30th March 2021, 18:33

    I don’t buy the “need time to get to know the car” excuses.
    George Russell didn’t have time to “get to know” the Mercedes last year. He was immediately in a race weekend with one day’s notice, in a car as different from the last place Williams as could be. He was immediately on the pace and faster than Bottas.
    Talent shone through…

    1. I agree with you. Note that Horner is praising his “calm head”. That’s not good news for Checo. This is formula 1 people ..and only one thing counts. SPEED! Come back when Horney says he is impressed by his pace.

    2. Agreed. Neither did Max in Barcelona. If you’re a skillful driver like Lewis or Max, you immediately extrapolate the maximum out of the circumstances.

  9. “First I need to make sure that I’m driving the way the car needs to be driven, and then work from there. But it’s taking me a while because it’s very different to what I’m used to.”

    This statement by Perez confirms what I’ve always thought about the redbull car.

    Their drivers are having to adapt to an engineer’s idea of how they should drive, where as the most successful team build their cars on the feedback they get from the driver, to bring out their strenghts of their drivers. Little wonder Redbull are chewing up so many drivers.

  10. Oh, I think it’s time to end the hype. Spot the difference between Pérez’s weekend and the first race of Albon at Spa ’19. Two similar charges through the field but, in addition, Checo’s car is arguably the best of the grid as of today.

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