Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Monaco, 2021

Perez sees Austrian double-header as valuable chance to master his RB16B

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez expects the addition of an extra race at the Red Bull Ring this year will help him make valuable progress in adjusting to his new car.

The Red Bull driver is one of several experienced racers who are adjusting to new teams this year. However with only three days of pre-season testing available, several of them have experienced difficulties adapting to their new cars.

“It’s a very unique season in that regard,” said Perez. “Drivers changing teams, normally in the past, hasn’t been such a big thing.

“But this year with so many variables out there, it has just made it harder. Some drivers have done a better job of it than others.”

Perez, who qualified ninth and finished fourth in Monaco, admitted he is still “not feeling at home yet with the car” but believes Sunday’s race showed that “once we were able to sort those out… the pace is there on.”

However Perez admits he still needs to make progress with his performance in qualifying sessions.

“In Imola I managed to put it on the second row in my second race. I wasn’t expecting that already that in such a difficult track. But the progression hasn’t come on Saturdays.”

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He believes the key to this is gaining a fuller understanding of how his car behaves, which will allow him to optimise his car’s performance over a race weekend.

“Whenever there is a little variable, I’m not fully at home with the car yet,” Perez said. “But I can see light at the end of the tunnel.”

“[It’s] changing compounds, changing wings, changing weather, those kind of things,” he explained. “When you know a car like the back of your hand it’s very easy to adapt to those situations.

“I’m not the only one out there who is struggling with a new car. I haven’t forgotten how to do the job, but it’s just unfortunately taking me longer than I would like to.”

F1 announced earlier this month the addition of a second race at the Red Bull Ring to replace the cancelled round in Turkey. Both events will take place on the same track configuration, but Pirelli will bring a softer range of tyre compounds for the second race.

Perez believes doing two consecutive race weekends at the same circuit, starting at the end of next month, will give him useful scope to develop.

“I think that will be very, very important,” he said. “Going to more circuit places, especially Austria, doing two weekends, that will really speed up my learning.”

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43 comments on “Perez sees Austrian double-header as valuable chance to master his RB16B”

  1. He even made a mistake on that comment, he said second row in imola, but it was first row!

  2. Five races in the season is already done.

  3. I hope Perez soon will start to improve – it is not that he is doing very badly but can’t call it good either.

    After 5 races he is doing better point wise than his predecessors but Max and Red Bull did also better.
    2021 Perez: 5th, >10th, 4th, 5th and 4th = 44 points versus Max 105 points = 42%
    2020 Albon: Ret, 4th, 5th, 8th and 5th = 36 points versus Max 76 points = 47%
    2019 Gasly: >10th, 8th, 6th, Ret and 6th = 20 points versus Max 66 points = 30%

    The 6th race Gasly was 5th (Max 4th), Albon was 8th (Max 2nd)

    1. This is a fair and important metric.

    2. Important indeed. Actually shows Albon did ok, however note that he had driven some of the 2019 season already in the car, whereas Perez had not. @jelle-van-der-meer

    3. He also has a better car than his team mates.

      1. @kpcart Perez? Red Bull was considerably faster than the next-fastest in the last two seasons too. Gasly and Albon (last season) merely couldn’t use it to their advantage as they should’ve.

    4. Can you do this same analysis comparing race finishing positions compared to Max and not points? Max’s first place finishes as a result of the better RB car will show more difference in points than finishing position.

      Reply moderated
    5. This actually shines light on the talent Perez is.

      Remember he somehow out Qualified Button in a car he was getting to understand as well in 2013. Jenson already had experience with the team.

    6. @jelle-van-der-meer

      Although I do find your metrics insightful.. I think it’s not taking the competitiveness of the Red Bull in to consideration. Red Bull is significantly more competitive in 2021 than it was in 2019. It was the 3rd fastest car in 2019, and the avg. position for Gasly to finish in would probably be P5 or P6. This year, the car is strong enough for the #2 driver to finish in P3 or P4. While last year, although the car was the second fastest, so the expected finishing position would be P4 for the second driver.

      We might not admit it, but currently Perez is performing lower than Albon did at the start of the season last year. I would honestly rate Perez’s performances closer to Gasly than Albon.

      1. Mate you completely missed the part about more practice sessions in previous years. Not to mention Albon had 2019 experience. Let’s not go in circles.

        Reply moderated
      2. @todfod Wrt Gasly, at this point he had less than half the points that SP now has, so I don’t see how the comparison is closer there.

        Wrt AA, you are ignoring that AA had already had half a season in the previous car, and the car had not had floor removal and the resultant changes to it to claw back downforce.

        SP not only is using a better car to have gained more points than his predecessors, he is also adapting twice fold, like the other drivers new to their teams this year, in that the cars all feel different for having the floor removal reality, and on top of that it is a new feeling car and team to him that would have been the case even without the floor change.

        Look we all know he is no Max, as it would seem only LH is a ‘Max,’ and I think we just have to be mindful that SP may have to be quite a bit rethinking every corner of every track as to how differently they all feel now and how he has to approach them compared to what he was used to, and compared to what PG and AA had. Sure they had cars they found difficult to set up and feel comfortable or balanced in, and less so as the season went on for AA, but they had more consistency carried over from the previous year in how the car felt in general, without a floor change to deal with as well.

        I’m sure SP will be fine. I’m sure if SP had had half of last season in the car and a resultant more potent off season of input with the team at the factory, he’d be more on top of the floor change reality and on how to approach corners. He’d have less adaptation to do. The team would be more familiar to him and he to them. PG and AA were within the family and RBR would have had full access via STR/AT to their likes and dislikes and tendencies and input etc etc.

        1. Most of it is true but you also have to consider that it’s only Alvin second season, while Perez is a seasoned veteran

        2. @robbie

          I think we’re both ignoring facts here. Albon was in his sophomore season. He has nearly a decade lesser experience than Perez. The reason Perez was brought on in the first place was to get over car issues and get comfortable with the car quicker than his predecessors, just because he’s been doing this for longer. If you compare Albon’s first few races in 2019 in a Red Bull as compared to Perez’s first few in 2021, you’ll see that Albon was quicker at adapting to the car, and generally performed better, despite having a more difficult car to drive with a later performance gap to Mercedes.

          Another thing you’ve chosen to ignore is that Albon was fighting for the win in the first race of the 2021 season. If it wasn’t for Lewis’ shunt, he would have most likely taken the win.. or at the very least P2. Perez really hasn’t even looked close to getting a podium so far.

          Honestly, I thought Albon failed to live up to the expectations of a #2 Red Bull driver. But since we’re comparing starts of their stints at Red Bull, it’s ridiculous to say Perez has performed better than Albon.

          1. @todfod Fair point about SP’s greater experience, but doesn’t 44 points for SP to 20 for AA after 5 races each make it ridiculous to suggest SP has not performed better? AA did well in Austria 2020, helped by Max and nine other cars dnf’ing and three safety cars, and we have the rest of his season to know he didn’t consistently repeat that level of day. He didn’t keep his seat ultimately. And now we see where it goes from here. I predict much more consistent punch from SP ahead in spite of a car that must feel much more different for him than AA’s did for him.

      3. @todfod Indeed. Maybe a more correct comparison would be position or speed gap in percentages

      4. Well all 3 drivers are compared to points scored by Max whereby Max would be an accurate reflection of the maximum competitiveness of the Red Bull car.
        Slightly polluted are retirements like Albon is looking reasonable but Max retired due to mechanical failure during race 1 of 2020.
        If I look over the whole season and filter out retirements and give 11 points for outside top 10, I get average finishing position of Max versus 2nd driver:
        2019: 3.53 versus Gasly 7.89 (both had 2 retirements – Gasly had 5 outside top 10 finishes)
        2020: 2.42 versus Albon 6.80 (Max had 5 and Albon 2 retirements – Albon had 3 outside top 10 finishes)
        2021: 1.60 versus Perez 5.80 (no retirements and Perez had 1 outside top 10 finish)

        So on average in all 3 years Red Bull 2nd driver finished more than 4 places behind Max.

        1. Oeps – correction for 2019 – didn’t factor in the mid season driver swap
          First 12 races:
          Max: 3.33 with no retirements
          Gasly: 7.10 with 2 retirements and 1 outside top 10 finish

          Last 9 races:
          Max: 3.86 with 2 retirements
          Albon: 5.89 with no retirement and 1 outside top 10 finish

    7. Every week with Checo he made some kind of small mistake or had an issue with the car that has hurt his results in a big way. He has the race pace, he just needs to find the right understanding with car setup and how to turn his tyres on in different weather conditions.

      The next race is a big opportunity for him. I feel like if he can get his qualifying right he has the pace to be on the podium at most races.

    8. You are comparing drivers Gasly and Albon who had more experience driving at Toro Rosso and then after Redbull who are similar in there chassis philosophy with a high rake, Perez has been 7 years with completely with low rake. Now lets look at race pace he has been with Max and Hamilton but his downfall his qualifying on Saturday. On Monaco he was not value here because “He took advantage of the clean air to gain position” what was ignored is that he did the best times with used tires and that he has master tire management, had the best time until amilton . There is always an excuse to down play Perez performance while a 7 times champion could not advance Gasly in an Alpha Tauri.
      To put an end to the 2013 Maclaren bs he did not perform lets see PEREZ VS MACLAREN 1th DRIVER 2014 to 2020
      2014 Perez 59— Button 126
      2015 Perez 78– Button 16
      2016 Perez 101–Button 21
      2017 Perez 100 -Alonso 17
      2018 Perez 62 –Alonso 50
      2019 Perez 52 –Sainz 96
      2020 Perez 125- Sainz 105
      Tot. Perez 577 Mclaren 431 that is difference of 146 points,,,,, 34 % more in a Force/RP car vs Mclaren ( with 2 world champions in the first 5 years).

      Reply moderated
      1. Was it 2019 where RP took over Force India and Perez helped save the team?

  4. Could’ve been in Red Bull a few years earlier, but who knows.

  5. I think its time to stop the adjustment stories. Plenty of examples in the past where drivers did not struggle with it. Maybe they are just not good enough.

    1. It’s certainly starting to look that way, maybe a couple of races more. However remember that with modern F1 there is virtually zero testing which makes a huge difference around aspects such as muscle memory, especially in changeable conditions as Perez alludes to. I’m not making excuses for him or RIC, but I would guess in 2 races time we can indeed start to forget about that narrative.

      1. Yeah, @john-h i do think that the lack of testing (and shorter free practice sessions), combined with the relatively big change in how the tyres react gives us quite a few drivers and teams who are still having to get to grips with their package.

        Vettel looked like he might have turned a corner now with 2 solid races, but Perez is a bit up and down, Alonso and Ricciardo are clearly having to work hard to find a way to best drive the cars. And we’ve seen both Alpine and Ferrari surprised at suddenly found pace and the Mercedes team still struggling to fully understand how to make the tyres work for them (especially for qualifying).

    2. Depends on how far back you go. I don’t remember when the testing ban kicked in in full force, 2009? Before that it was quite normal for drivers to do a ton of testing work in between the races; all those thousands of kilometers helped a lot.

  6. The new short preseason testings are not helpful for drivers who are switching teams, joining F1 or have had a break. Last year Ricciardo demolished Ocon who had a season away, this year Ocon is beating Alonso who had a couple seasons away, and Ricciardo is being demolished by Norris. Results are the most important, but drivers these days don’t have enough testing anymore so then if one driver has a gap over a teammate at start of year, it tends to last all season. Even when Verstappen won his first race at Redbull, that was a one off and Ricciardo defeated Verstappen for the rest of the season. Vandoorne was as good a rookie as any, but got dominated by Alonso by usually only 0.3 seconds a lap and never got back into F1. I don’t think we should go back to preseason testing where drivers got 20,000km in a new car before a first race, but they need more than they are getting now. Robert Kubica, his comeback is seen as a failure by many, but he had only like 500km or so in the Williams before driving an f1 race after 7 years away in one of the worst cars in modern f1 history, this guy had a Ferrari contract. I know well and true Perez is a great driver, but I didn’t see him catching Verstappen as he needs more time with that car to learn it. 2 races at Red Bull ring… You can see why he thinks of it as when they used to have inseason practice. I see it as a worrying trend… Last 2 years every driver who switched teams, is a rookie or is coming back to f1 is being consistently beaten by their teammates. Now look at Goivinazzi and Latifi getting closer to their teammates this year… That extra time in the car helps.

    1. Yes strong point and strong evidence. They do need more practice time don’t they. Tho for me Perez is incident-prone and always will be, I reckon Red Bull are quite likely talking to Bottas. And Perez is a bit flattered position wise by the big gap from the top two teams to the others, and last year by the driver-friendly Pink Mercedes.

      1. @zann Perez was a bit Maldonado-like in his early seasons at Sauber and Mclaren but got rid of that eventually. I see Williams as Bottas’ only chance for next season should he have to leave Mercedes.

        1. I think Perez can still be impetuous @jerejj. And Monaco was a strong case for Bottas, who has shown he can be close to Lewis in qualy and that’s what Helmut is looking for, tho he would have had to change cars and perhaps need practice time as you say. But yes otherwise he has no good options does he, and George is coming surely. So imo if Helmut is talking, Valtteri will be listening, and vice-versa.

    2. Well, @kpcart, I do get your point about probably seeing that doing so little testing means drivers are still to learn a lot during their careers.

      But is it a BAD thing that drivers changing teams and new drivers coming in are having to take time to learn how to best do it? Isn’t it nice to see how the experience also counts and this in return might show the teams that the way to go is longer term relationships with drivers instead of having a new go at a hot prospect almost every year?

      I actually think that the mad rush to get drivers up and through the ladder super fast in the last decade hurt their development into complete racing drivers and having a bit more calm, and having teams needing to take in account that maybe staying with what they have and work with those drivers to get better can be a good thing.

    3. Terence Blumenthal
      27th May 2021, 21:18

      Good comment, you’re on to something there for sure!

  7. If anything Austria could be Perez’s downfall.

    1. @peartree How? If he fails there despite running the same circuit on two consecutive weekends, which in theory, should fast-track his progress in getting more comfortable with RB16B?

      1. @jerejj @faulty RB and Max are expected to do well in Austria, that is a lot of pressure.

    2. Isn’t the short track less demanding of an optimum tire, which is what he has struggled most with in qualifying?

      Doesn’t the RB Ring also require less energy from the power unit, per lap. Isn’t the main weakness of the Honda power unit that it can’t deliver electrical power from its ERS on-the-fly like the Mercedes?

  8. Good point. This really will be very welcome for those who are still struggling to understand their package. Ricciardo, Perez, the Mercedes team too. And many others who were surprised by their car doing better than expected at a few instances already this year.

  9. I just love this guy. I have no doubt he’ll see some improvement over the course of the season.

  10. He has the pace on race day, his problem now is just the one lap he has to master in quali, the trafic at the start of the race is the only problem i see.

  11. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    27th May 2021, 15:01

    I really have immense faith in Perez but I think it’s a tall order for him to reach Max’s performance in that car. Max is talented but this car suits him probably to a delta of 0.3 seconds more than any other driver. He definitely has 0.2 season edge over most drivers.

    Perez may get closest to Max but it’s obvious the car doesn’t suit him and now he’s in recovery mode trying to make up for lost ground. That rarely goes the way you want it to and it usually requires another variable to change in his favor.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed and have realistic expectations.

  12. The Baku circuit is one that Checo likes, he knows it well, I think this is a good opportunity for SP to have a good Saturday, if he qualifies well and with a good tire strategy Pérez could have his best chance of the year .

    In Monaco Checo lost the podium on Saturday, on Sunday he had an excellent race, at some point in the race he was the driver with the best race pace, even above Max and Lewias, he caught up with Norris but it was not enough, SP He has already shown that he has the rhythm, if he finds the key to open it on Saturdays,… careful, Checo has the hands and the claw to do it.

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