Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021

Perez still finding it “very hard to get up to speed” on race weekends

2021 Spanish Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez says F1’s shorter practice sessions this year are making it harder for him to get up to speed in the Red Bull.

The team’s new driver qualified eighth in Spain after suffering shoulder pain on Saturday. Perez said the symptoms eased on Sunday and he felt “a lot better” during the 66-lap race.

He made progress in the race, rising to finish fifth. “It’s important to keep making those steps and put the whole weekend together,” Perez said. “It just takes me a bit too long to get up to speed when we go to a new circuit.”

But after four races with Red Bull, Perez admitted he’s “not there with a car yet.”

“You see that things are coming, but not together. But I think once we are able to put them together we have the pace to be able to go pretty quick.”

Friday’s practice sessions have been cut from 90 minutes to 60 this year. Perez said the loss of an hour’s running every weekend compared to last year has delayed his progress.

“I’m getting more confident with the car, obviously. Every time I get to the end of the week I’m like, I wish the weekend just start now because. Given how limited track time is it is very hard to get up to speed.”

Spanish GP review: How Mercedes left Red Bull unable to respond to Hamilton’s victory charge
Perez’s discomfort on Saturday, when he spun during Q3, compromised his entire weekend. However he was able to gain three positions at a track where overtaking is difficult, including a late-braking move on Daniel Ricciardo at turn one.

“Of course it is frustrating,” he said. “But given our poor day [on Saturday], I think that was everything we could have done.

“It took me a long time to get past Daniel. He was extremely quick on the on the main straight. It’s not an easy place to get past people.”

“So we’ll just forget this one and go back again in Monaco learn from what we’ve done and hopefully come back stronger,” he added.

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39 comments on “Perez still finding it “very hard to get up to speed” on race weekends”

  1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    11th May 2021, 7:41

    Can we tell yet if Perez will do better than Albon?

    1. Gino (@moustacho)
      11th May 2021, 8:04

      If you look at 2020 (Albon already driving half a season with Red Bull), Albon had after first 4 races 26 points. Perez currently has 32 points without a half year advantage. So I would say, yes, he is already doing better than Albon. You also see he is driving the car, instead of the other way around which you saw with Gasly and Albon. Perez is more on par with Ricciardo imo. Monaco however is not really a good reference, since it’s just like the casino up the hill.

      Reason why I’m counting from season start is for the development of the car. The bull is always better in the second half of the season.

      1. Perez has podiumed in Monaco. Max has yet to do so. So it will be interesting to see how it plays out with the team. Season is exciting with this story playing out.

      2. Lorrydriver1
        11th May 2021, 18:46

        But where was Max compared to Albon? Max wasn’t getting pole positions and leading races in early 2020. In fact Max only got one pole in 2020 and was never really in contention. the issue here is the car has more potential. Most importantly RB can see the data. Even in FP1 and FP2 Albon was always closer on pace and did not spin as often. They’ll lose patience quickly. Remember also that Albon is a young inexperience guys being backed and given time. You don’t pay big bucks for a heavy hitter, displace your young protege for a finished article for that person to turn round and say he needs time. Hami in his first season needed time, Tusonda needs time. Even Mazepin needs time..Checo after 10 years? And dont talk about Ricciardo or Alonso. They are slow by comparison but they are not spinning out during Q3 first runs. Notice how everyone overtook Checo during the last run? they were all scared of a ruined lap.😂 As for Vettel whats there to say?

    2. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk I’m positive we can.
      Of course, impossible to be 100% certain, but I’m not sure Albon in the last four races would’ve achieved the same results as Perez. 2019 Albon, maybe, but 2020 Albon definitely not.

      1. Good point from both of you: albon got worse in his 2nd red bull season, he was reasonable initially, and in 2020 he was regularly lapped by verstappen, I know it’s not a fair comparison when perez has a better red bull, but comparing to what verstappen does is good enough.

    3. lexusreliabilty?
      11th May 2021, 9:11


      Well yes. He’s already outqualified Max and despite not even knowing the diff settings properly he is already finishing on the same lap as Verstappen. Which is a heck of a step up from the team mate holdiay Max has had since the bruisings he got from Ricciardo.

  2. I’m not worried about Perez yet. I’m confident he’ll eventually start to be in the mix regularly.
    RB could give him time in RB15 if they’d want, as this might fast-track his progress.

  3. It’s clear as day that Red Bull has their cars designed around Max and that other drivers just have to adept to it and that’s also os the reason why Max looks so while his teammates are in fact handicapped.

    1. Max wants more grip for years, but they don’t seem to do that for him ;)

    2. No, is not clear as day. Max driving style if it exists at all is based on swift adaptation to whatever you throw at him (the rest is based on keeping the platform level & setting the car straight which is not unique) He himself says he needs 3 laps. He has also demonstrated it countless times by switching between sim (proper sims, not F1 and GT etc) and real cars. Other drivers have commented they wouldnt be able to do that since they would have difficulties when getting back in their F1 car. And moreover ofcourse his first race for RedBull proves this point. So, do not agree, Checo needs to raise his game or we are going to have to start to accept no one except perhaps Lewis and Charles will match him with equal material

      1. Forgetting a couple of details one Max had plenty of time in sister team before stepping up to the RB. Two Max had season’s where there was more practice allowed compared to Checo. So let’s slow down with the Max walks on water bit.

        1. That’s why you should look to Max vs Bottas last year. Bottas only beat Max in his superior W11 over the full season because of 4 more DNFs. Perez and Bottas are quite similar imho.

          So Max is just much better than them

          1. Perhaps Max is just more physically fit then Perez. Max uses every bit of downforce that RedBull has hence why he exceeds track limits often. It appears Checo slows down way too much on corners for that car. Everyone knows the RB is best on the curvy bits so if Perez thinks he is going to rely on DRS alone he is in for a long season.

  4. Adios, amigo. Marko tends to dislike underperforming especially when it comes with a list of excuses, genuine or not. We are seeing the last of Perez and Bottas in top teams. Funny thing is if they go to the lower midfield together they could probably shine even in a Haas.

    1. @Rodber A bit premature for definitive conclusions regarding Perez’s and Bottas’ futures in their respective teams.

    2. Marko tends to treat is #2 drivers as disposable. How is it working out? mmm….

  5. Focus of the article is on Perez, but this is a trend that get me concerned about fresh blood getting into F1. We are at risk to have experience more valuable than skills or capabilities as young drivers won’t have the chance to get any driving time before getting in. Teams might also be reluctant to get a rookie that will spend a bigger part of the season learning how to drive as the amount of driving hours to master F1 cars can be expected to stay similar.

    We might end up with an aging grid where I think it is exciting to see new prospect having a go at F1 with mixed success.

    1. @jeanrien

      Agreed, I wonder if we’ve got to a point where there is not enough time permitted in the car for the drivers now.

      With just 3 days of pre-season and 3 hours of practice a weekend, it’s seems to be an extremely difficult environment just for those who change teams (let alone the debutants).

      Everyone who changed team (Perez, Ricciardo, Sainz and Vettel, Alonso) is taking a fairly hefty beating from their team mate at the moment, often a magnitude of half as many points as their team mate, hardly representative of their respective skill levels. We can also see that Tsunoda is having a tough time of it. it’s hard to judge the two Haas boys.

      All in all, I think it’s fair to be asking whether we have got to the point of too little testing, to the point where it’s holding drivers back. Whilst some people are able to just jump into a car and be fast, this shouldn’t be a skill that is valued – drivers like Rosberg and Button would never have been champions without the opportunity to work hard, and spend the time they needed to hone their driving.

      1. Yes that and the cars have become so unique that they require a very specific type of driving to extract the most out of them. Not like you can drive one, you can drive them all by the look of things. It takes time for highly skilled drivers to adjust to team changes like we haven’t seen before (not to that extend anyway).

  6. David Morgan
    11th May 2021, 9:45

    If it is track time he needs why is he always one of the last to start practice?

    1. lexusreliabilty?
      11th May 2021, 12:30

      Limited sets of tyres, turbos, energy recovery, ICE etc sporings to mind thanks to the cost cap.

  7. Maybe, just maybe the car us simply not good enough Marko. You can keep burning through drivers, but maybe you should look at yourselves. Max is no benchmark, that much is clear to everyone. So stop pretending it is the drivers

  8. We might be expecting too much from Perez. For argument sake, let’s say he’s about as good as Bottas. Bottas had the allmighty W11 last year and he only beat Max over a season by 9 points, while Max had 5 DNFs against 1 for Bottas.

    The difference in driver quality is just too big. And if this get’s into Perez’s head, he might drop to the level of Albon and Gasly in the Redbull car.

    I just hope Perez can accept the fact he is a nr 2 driver that needs to support Max, that’s the only way I see him getting there.

    1. But then he still needs to get there, at least. He is useless if not usable for team strategy. But then again, so will be everyone else but Lewis or Charles. So, RB should focus on another area, which is improving that car!

      1. Yes, I keep hearing hamilton and wolff say we need to improve the car: no, you don’t, mercedes is good enough, it’s red bull that needs to improve a little to give a more serious challenge!

  9. Danny Ric so far has driven 3813 km in the mcLaren. He completed 3563 km at Renault following the Bahrein test after round 2. This of course is the same for every new driver this year, including Perez. Everyone of those new drivers is still not on the level they should be competing at. Yet for Perez this metric is complety overlooked in all the media outings about his performance.

    This season we simply have to wait a bit longer to judge the performance of newcomers.

    1. +1

      It’s only been 4 races!

  10. They should have put Hulkenberg in that seat. It’s a talent wasted.

    1. Like Hulkenberg is any different than Checo. We have lots of Hulkenbergs out there, hundreds

    2. Agree that it is a talent wasted. But don’t think results would have been any different for Red Bull.

  11. My take on this is the RB simulator is not good enough. Perez should be able to figure some things out in the simulator (then confirm them on track) and then address the rest on the track, but it sounds like he has to do it all on track. With the reduction of in car time, teams must ensure that their simulators are as accurate as possible, especially when a new driver is brought in.

  12. If Perez isn’t in the mix in Monaco that would be very concerning. He needs to at the very least be in 4th but close enough to making Mercedes’ strategy department uncomfortable. RB have been strong in Monaco for a few years now and expecting Max to have the edge over everyone with the softest c3-c5 tyre range.

    1. Monaco is going to be a merc track considering car characteristics the past two years

  13. I like Perez and seeing him stuck behind McLarens is very frustrating. Perez needs to live locked up in the RBR simulator similar to what Bottas is doing at AMG. Like Bottas stated hard work pays off.

    1. Interesting take but I think Max is just stronger than Perez and is able to handle the physical RB better. Sim work is great but Perez should up is game in the gym like his teammate.

      1. This is very interesting and make sense. Wondering if that was also the cause of the shoulder pain that got worst gradually until Q3. If that is true it could take more weeks to develop enough muscle.

  14. All things considered Perez is still doing a solid job. He needs that killer confidence back. He is letting the mistakes get the better of him. The Legends believed they had a God given right to be there. Remember that Checo.

  15. When we compare today’s drivers to the guys of the 90s and the 00s it’s always important to keep in mind the huge difference in track time the guys actually got.

    MSC used to spend WEEKS in Fiorano figuring out every last detail whereas nowadays they barely get a few days before the season starts and then have all these 2 week breaks where they can’t get in the car.

    Yes, today’s cars are easier to drive apparently but still the challenge for Checo, Danny Ric, etc is a big one this year!

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