Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Perez now “very comfortable” with RB19 as he aims to match Verstappen

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Red Bull driver Sergio Perez says he feels “very comfortable” with his new car after the team’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko claimed it will suit both its drivers more equally.

Marko said development of the team’s RB18 last season moved the car away from Perez’s natural balance preference and towards Max Verstappen’s preferred handling of a stronger front end, but that the RB19 would more naturally suit both Perez and Verstappen’s styles.

After sampling the new car in last week’s pre-season test, Perez says that he feels the RB19 will suit him and his preferred balance tendencies.

“I think we have a better understanding of the car,” Perez said. “We have a better package.

“I did feel very comfortable with it through testing. So we will see. I think we have a really good base for all of us.”

After a frustrating start to last season with a double retirement in the Bahrain Grand Prix, Red Bull went on to dominate the championship, winning 17 of the 22 races. Perez believes the RB19 is even superior to its all-conquering predecessor.

“I think just in general we have improved quite a bit, the car,” he said. “I just think the main thing is the balance of it. We made it a little bit more together from all speed ranges, which is very positive.”

Despite his team’s strong showing in testing and their rivals all pointing to them as the team to beat this weekend, Perez says it is not assured that Red Bull are in for an easy victory on Sunday.

“I think it’s a matter of just being patient,” he said. “I think no one really knows what everyone is at.

“Bahrain is very unique track there. The track changes quite a lot through the day, so there’s lot of uncertainties at the moment, but we are about to find out. I think we will find out on Saturday once we see all the cars running on the same track.”

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2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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9 comments on “Perez now “very comfortable” with RB19 as he aims to match Verstappen”

  1. Well.. If he thinks the car balance is to his liking… then Sergio has no excuse be getting beaten by huge margins by Max in quali and raceday every race weekend.

    I just don’t see Perez finishing in front of Max on any race weekend other than the ones that Max has incurred some penalty, or race incident or safety car fluke. On normal racing terms he would get beaten everywhere again.

  2. Imagine if teams would make their car more suitable for their 2nd driver rather than 1st. I wonder how much that would have affected the results.

    1. I would hope (and expect quite frankly) that drivers at this level are able to extract what’s in a car. Period. It is the pinnacle of Motorsport. As Max says, ‘give me two or three laps and I will tell you what this car can and can’t do’. The moment a driver (or his fans) starts talking about ‘not developed for me but for the other’ you know you are not dealing with a real racing driver that will become WDC one day. Quite frankly I wouldn’t mind this bunch to go and drive Formula 2.

      1. “Marko said development of the team’s RB18 last season moved the car away from Perez’s natural balance preference and towards Max Verstappen’s preferred handling of a stronger front end, but that the RB19 would more naturally suit both Perez and Verstappen’s styles”

        Second paragraph from Helmut Marko, not said by Perez, not his fans, not the press.

        Of all the grid RB is the team known to develop the car towards only 1 driver, just read Alex Albon’s latest report about it.

  3. Señor Sjon
    3rd March 2023, 8:56

    Problem for Perez is, Verstappen was already faster when the car was not to Verstappens liking. Yes, Perez beat him in SA qualy. But in the race he made no inroads after his SC-stop while Verstappen won the race.

    In race trim, Perez has almost no chance against Verstappens relentless pace.

  4. “as he aims to match Verstappen”
    Putting phrases like this do quite a disservice to poor Perez. That’s all I’m gonna say.

  5. That’s also the difference between a racing drivers and a (potential) world champions mindset. Where one would simply aim to match the one above, the other aims to be the very best and to be on top of everybody else no matter what.

  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    3rd March 2023, 19:11

    Might be a fun three or four races before the car has its ‘balance improved’ and Perez is back to being half a second behind.

  7. speaking to Fox Sports Mexico, (Perez) admits he is still surprised that Verstappen did not let him pass at Interlagos and warned his employers about future situations ahead of the 2023 season.

    “It’s important to always work as a team and obviously if I see that I don’t receive support when I need it I won’t give it either,” Perez said.
    If he has two championships, it is thanks to me.

    Liam, Daniel how’s your fitness levels….?

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