Horner defends Perez over Imola race errors after point-less finish

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner refused to be critical of his driver Sergio Perez following a series of errors by the team’s new signing in his second race for them.

Perez qualified a career-best second, ahead of team mate Max Verstappen, but was passed by him at the start. While Verstappen went on to take a dominant win, Perez endured a difficult race and finished out of the points in 12th.

A first-lap error cost Perez a place to Charles Leclerc. He then slid off-track while the field was running behind the Safety Car, losing more places. Rather than hold station as required by the rules, Perez overtook the cars which had passed him, and as a result was handed a 10-second time penalty.

He served that during his pit stop, but a spin at the Villeneuve chicane dropped him out of the top 10. He was unable to climb back into the points-paying positions, running wide again after bouncing over the kerbs at Tamburello while trying unsuccessfully to pass Sebastian Vettel. He finished 12th, over a minute behind Verstappen.

Horner said Perez’s difficult race shows he needs more time to get used to the Red Bull.

“I think that it’s just time in the seat,” said Horner. “He did a good job yesterday.

“Today was a messier race for him. Obviously the mistake behind the Safety Car early on, the 10-second penalty and then unfortunately the mistake behind the Ferraris at the restart was a shame because he would have scored, he could well have been on the podium today as well.

“It’s frustrating not to have him up there, but he’s certainly finding his pace, finding his feet, and I’m sure he’s going to have much stronger weekends ahead.”

Perez has said he’s ”miles away” from where he wants to be with the Red Bull-Honda RB16B, and still finds its handling “unnatural” compared to the Force India and Racing Point machines he has spent his past seven Formula 1 seasons in.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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41 comments on “Horner defends Perez over Imola race errors after point-less finish”

  1. Jonathan Parkin
    18th April 2021, 19:19

    In the immortal words of Fox Mulder “Do you see a pattern developing here Scully”

    1. Come on, it’s been only 2 races and today was a somewhat chaotic race with many drivers making unusual mistakes. Also, in Bahrain he had a solid recovery drive and yesterday he was Max’s first team mate to out qualify him since Ricciardo left. Hardly the same pattern as Gasly and Albon.

      1. Absolutely, mistakes can happen, what gasly and albon lacked was speed.

        1. And also made plenty mistakes each. They probably wrote off about 4 cars between them.

          Perez has shown something in each race to show he will be a massive upgrade once he settles down and irons out some errors.

          Bahrain was a great recovery and scored good points, Imola showed he had good speed and stuck it on the front row ahead of Max, which is exactly what RB have been looking for. That guy who won’t beat Max 90% of the time, but is close enough, often enough that he opens up strategy options in the race and can capitalise on the days Max makes a mistake.

    2. I think those drivers start to crack after being pressured on the internet by people like you. So, if it serves to your amusement then I am sorry for you.

  2. I predict that Perez will swap places with Gasly 2022.

    1. IMO gasly and albon are done with red bull, I wouldn’t hire them again, I’d rather take another driver from outside red bull, and perez should be a good choice as a number 2.

    2. I predict after the next race the swap will happen…remember they don’t even have confidence to send him out on hard tires for q2.. when Gasly is doing so no problem.. I have to admit when I saw him in P2 after quali I was shocked.. still I predict one more race then swap..

      1. @Lorrydriver1 I’m not sure if swapping would be possible as he isn’t a driver coming from Red Bull’s program, so he mightn’t necessarily have a similar contract as the others. This is just my thought since I, of course, don’t know contract contexts, but a possibility. More likely, he’d merely end up without a drive altogether.

    3. Why? Gasly messed up last race, remember. He’s not much better.

    4. Do not forget my words, RedBull will never ever bring Gasly to them anymore, he had his chance and he will never get it, partly
      1. because Marko doesn’t want to humilate himself when he performs bad again
      2. Marko doesn’t want to be called “he was wrong”

      There are plenty of other options, if perez goes we will probably see Tsunoda, Hulkenberg or other young bloods getting the chance, but never Gasly.

      I belive Perez will perform good in dry conditions, and he will be retained for the next year. Heck, he outqualified Verstappen since Ricciardo. But, on the side note, perez is more comfortable with mercedes engine than others.

  3. I can see the pattern, also the stint on softs to the flag was the kind of awful decision that the RB pit wall takes for the second car on an already troubly race for Perez.

  4. Why didn’t Red Bull tell Perez to give back the places though? I could understand his instinctive reaction, not the failure of the team to check with race control and act.

    1. This. Still looking for an explanation of why he did that.

      1. @david-br @hahostolze I’m not sure if I’m correct but the pit wall could just have missed that as there was so much going on. It really didn’t take Perez long to get his position back and maybe he was hoping that no one saw it.

      2. Because, sometimes, when the rules are not that clear or less known, then teams tend to risk it and go with it, and later see what happens. F1 rules are complicated sometimes, especially when the incident is not something that happened frequently before.

        E.g. in Verstappens slide on the restart, what would have happened when Norris and Leclerc overtook him in that position, arguing that max left the track? They didnt want to risk it. Perezs situation was similar, though, he was off track longer than Verstappen, but the cars still just drove by.

    2. @david-br Yeah what’s interesting as well looking at Perez’s onboard is that Ricciardo seemed to slow down a fair bit rather than closing the gap to Leclerc, almost as if he didn’t know that Perez wouldnt be allowed to retake the place. I think the fact that the two cars that overtook him were going very slowly also contributed to Perez instinctively thinking he could retake the place.

      1. @ninjenius Indeed. Ricciardo seemed to think he’d be required to let Perez back ahead like on a formation lap, and I admit, I fell into the same trap a little bit too.

        1. @jerejj Yeah man. RIC’s reaction, while watching PER’s onboard was quite confusing. RIC used heavy brakes and was like “I will give the place back” and PER was like “I will go back again to my initial starting position”. GAS seemed to be totally “out of the picture” and almost crashed on RIC. All of them are quite experienced drivers, but on this case it seems like they were all confused on what they should do. To add to this, LEC literally backed off when VER had that spin before restart, when we would expect that he would take advantage of this error and pass him.

          Maybe all of these 4 drivers acted like this because of wet conditions and the “special” rules that come with it, I don’t know. What I know is that both incidents were confusing. There is no way that PER wasn’t already aware that he couldn’t overtake under SC. There is no way that LEC wasn’t aware that he could overtake under SC when the driver in front does an error. Still confusing.

          1. @f1-fan Gasly didn’t “alost crash into RIC” – he knew what was up and made sure to pass Perez while he was off-track.
            That was just smart thinking by Gasly.

    3. I agree. The team are also responsible for that mistake. Maybe Checho should ask the team at that point if he was able to hold the position. But I think that doesn’t make a really too much difference, what makes his race pointless was his error in Tamburello. Also he manages to get back on track and finished the race trying to score some points and collecting milage in his belt.
      I think as well as Horner that Checo will going to improve and eventually have podiums and winning races. Maybe the next season will also can be able to fight for the championship.

      Reply moderated
    4. You Go Chavez
      18th April 2021, 20:34

      They didn’t even have to go to race control.

      There is a very significant landmark decision about losing track position during a SC involving McLaren LH and Jarno Trulli from a few years back.

      Red Bull had time to tell Perez to give the place back and the difference for the team and both car finishing in points could have been very different. Interesting how last race they were able to instruct Max almost immediately.

      On another matter, G. Russell’s response to Bottas after taking him out of the race and also comprising LH’s race was not endearing.

    5. Reading the stewards explanation to Kimi’s post race penalty I don’t konw if Pérez/Red Bull/the other two drivers involved thought he would have time to recover his position before the safety car line and then he missed it for little, too little for them to be sure.
      My other hypothesis inconsistency on the stewards enforcing the rules. Note that he was given a 10 seconds STOP AND GO, no a 10 seconds penalty. He was supposed to serve it at a different time to his stop for changing tyres, as Vettel did.
      They also changed the front wing flaps in his car during the red flag, one of the ver few elements that can’t be changed in such conditions. In total, and without paying much attention, I found seven or eight decisions of the stewards that are contrary to what the rules said. So, who knows, corruption and incompetence in the FIA is such that they probably can’t know when they will be penalized and for what.

  5. I’ll give him a pass on this one – new car, difficult conditions, etc. It’s not like he’s the only driver who made mistakes. Sainz did, Verstappen did, Alonso did, Mazepin did, Tsunoda did. Hamilton, Russell, Schumacher and Latifi made much bigger ones. Anyway, yesterday showed he can match Verstappen. Better things await.

  6. Too early to be worried he’d face Gasly’s and Albon’s fate.

    1. @jerejj he’s already done in 2 races what they couldn’t in 30+ combined, namely outqualify Verstappen. Bad race today, but yesterday was very promising.

      1. Good thing F1 awards points for qualifying position and not where you finish the race, then.

        1. @jonathan I didn’t say it did did I? Aren’t you clever with your sarcasm. Yes, as I said, bad race. Everyone has one at some point. Comment was solely pointing out that Gasly and Albon never started ahead of Verstappen on merit; Perez already has.

  7. Checo says after friday’s practice that Imola was the worst second race for a driver to changes team. The race proves to be the right quote, as all the drivers to change teams struggle more o less in the race, and none of them beats his teammate: Vettel, Sainz, Ricciardo… and also Alonso.

    Reply moderated
  8. The mistake under the safety car was poor, but he wasn’t the only one to make similar errors…
    However overtaking to retake his list position was rank amature that I would expect from a rookie.
    Did Red Bull not tell him to gave the places back? I can only assume that they didn’t bother as it was too late. As in, the offense is a slam dunk penalty, even if you give the position back.

  9. So disappointing after such a good qualy. I must say though, Sergio rarely impresses in the wet. I recall a number of silly spins. His one today was almost a carbon copy of Albon at the same point of the track last year!

    1. Lorry driver1
      18th April 2021, 21:07

      Lol problem with being and average driver is when you go up against a max or hami in a leading car, you are out under so much pressure you crack

      Reply moderated
  10. That was atrocious by Perez, even though the Red Bull is notoriously difficult to drive. Properly disappointing. He’s supposed to be mr. steady.

    1. Agree, Perez’s race was a disaster. Hope he could put today’s performance behind him and remember this as his worst race of the year.
      Luckily Bottas overshadowed him winning the trophy for the worst performance of the day.

  11. Silly mistake by Perez putting the left rear slick in the water! 😖 Stellar job by Max and Lewis today.

  12. People who think Sergio is in danger of being replaced show the logic of an 11-year-old.

    Anyway, everyone is forgetting Sergio has never been strong in the wet. I am not surprised he had such a sloppy race. Either way, it’s already clear he’s going to have much better results than Gasly or Albon.

    1. Agreed, although I did have high hopes given how well he did in Turkey last year. But that was obviously in a car he knew super well. Onwards and upwards, I hope!!

      Reply moderated
  13. I see no mention of the steering problem Perez was having.
    He changed out the steering wheel during his pit stop.
    How often do you see that happen? Once a year? Maybe?

    Reply moderated
  14. Bad race, but he has the pace. One has to be blind to think he’s the same level as Albon.

  15. Was also disappointed by Perez’s performance but was there an issue with the car as earlier on he said the wheel was moving by itself (and this was acknowledged by the team). He then changed the wheel at his 10 second penalty stop presumably to try and cure the issue?
    Wasn’t mentioned post race but maybe part of the reason?

  16. Secondary Red Bull seat is just cursed.

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