Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Imola, 2021

Perez still not driving “naturally” in Red Bull despite “big steps” in Imola

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez says driving a Red Bull is still “not coming naturally” but he’s “making big steps” which culminated in his first front row start in Formula 1 at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

Following his move to Red Bull this year, Perez qualified 11th for his first race with his new team in Bahrain. Despite losing time to a practice crash, his Imola weekend has been more fruitful so far, yielding second on the grid for today’s race.

“Every time I’m driving this car I’m just learning something new and that’s pretty good,” said Perez after qualifying. “I mean, if there is a place that you don’t want to come in your second race with a new team, it’s probably Imola. It’s one of the most difficult circuits around to put the lap together.”

“To be here in my second race, it’s a pretty good step from our side”, he added. Perez said team mate Max Verstappen had been a useful reference for improving his understanding of the Red Bull-Honda RB16B.

Based on comparisons to Verstappen he was surprised to qualify second, while also convinced pole was possible were it not for one error. “I wasn’t expecting myself to be here at the moment because I feel that I’m miles away from where I should be,” he said.

“Things are not coming naturally yet. And so it’s good, it’s a good boost in confidence, not just for myself, also for the team, to make them feel that they have both drivers and that we can push the team forward together.”

Going into the weekend, Perez said he was ready to make another attempt to qualify on the harder medium compound tyres in Q2, despite having failed to make the cut for Q3 when he did so in Bahrain. However he opted for soft tyres to secure a place in the top 10, unlike his team mate who opted for mediums.

Perez surprisingly out-qualified Verstappen
Perez explained the decision was made because wanted to ensure he got as much mileage in the car as possible.

“Last time I missed Q3 and really getting those laps,” said Perez. “We could all look back and we can all do better, but just getting in that mood with the car is very important for me in order to be able to put it when it matters.

“I needed this clean qualifying. And whether or not this is the right or wrong strategy, I think it’s much between them. So we’re definitely in the game.”

Perez had never qualified higher that fourth on the grid until six races ago, when he claimed third for the Turkish Grand Prix. He qualified fourth four times in his first nine F1 seasons, and matched that four more times in the more competitive Racing Point RP20 in 2020.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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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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13 comments on “Perez still not driving “naturally” in Red Bull despite “big steps” in Imola”

  1. Rui (@colinmcrui)
    18th April 2021, 9:14

    That is technically correct, he has not driven naturally since 2014 started…

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      18th April 2021, 10:05

      However if he still has to get used to the Red Bull and he qualifies on the front row what happens when he IS used to it

      Remember Max you asked for this

      1. It was good but in reality 2-3 tenths off if Verstappen hadn’t made a mistake, and I guess this front-limited circuit hides the some of the nervousness of RB16B so still some ways to go IMO

      2. Ha ha ha ha ha! Checo?..I gave Checo 3 races to be replaced and I haven’t changed my mind. I must admit when I saw him in P2 after qualifying I was gobsmacked! the one thing that tells me is that the redbull is a beast of a car..which means Max wins the championship this year..nothing Hami can do about that unless Merc make major gains.

  2. Really hoping to see what Red Bull can do with two drivers with different tyre stategies just behind Hamilton

    1. I am afraid that Sergio will be the sacrifical lamb on the altar of RedBull strategy. MAXimising points is Horner priority. Hope I will be proved wrong.

      1. In the past they would give the leading car priority on pit stops, but the cars are on different compounds so Checo will need to stop earlier (unless he goes full tyre whsiperer).

        I just hope they don’t trip over one another and can be an effective team against Mercedes.
        I would prefer Checo won the race, but if both cars are in front of Lewis, I will take that too.

      2. The advantage of having him on softs and ahead, is that his first target will be to try and get past Lewis soon. Then he can either make a gap – especially if Verstappen manages to get past Hamilton, or be the one ahead who keeps Hamilton from building a gap @schivo69.

        He can then pit and force Hamilton to have to pit as well while Verstappen can keep track position and get far in the race on his mediums.

      3. @schivo69 I’m sure you’re right

      4. Ahah, maximising points written like that is fun!

  3. Fransesco i have to agree with you. Im thinking the same thing for redbulls golden boy. If they do that now then Redbull are shooting themselves in the foot. But all will make for an interesting race. I cant wait to watch. Bottas way down… I think Russel will be in that car next year.

    1. All these guys, Checo, Russel are overatted by fans. Bottas is solid as was Nico. The reason why people never appreciate Albon Gasly and Bottas is they are driving against legends..once in lifetime legends like Max and Hami..anyone who seriously thinks Russel can race that Merc like Hami did today is delusional. Shumi, Max, Senna only needed one drive to convince people..

      1. Well, russel impressed his one chance he got in mercedes, you can’t say he isn’t like them if he doesn’t get more chances, he has a perfect record in a competitive car.

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