Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

“I could simply not do” what Verstappen was doing in car, admits Perez

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Miami Grand Prix pole-winner Sergio Perez admitted he struggled to match his team mate’s performance in the opening practice sessions for the race.

Max Verstappen was the quicker of the two Red Bull drivers when practice ended, the pair separated by half a second. However Perez took pole position for today’s race after Verstappen made a mistake on his only chance to set a time during Q3.

Perez said he was “mainly missing confidence” in his car during practice. “When I was looking at the data and seeing what Max was able to do, I could simply not do that and I was struggling a lot.”

“It was not small differences, it was quite big,” he added.

The Miami International Autodrome has proved challenging for drivers this weekend as the new track surface has changed rapidly, offering more grip as it cleans up. Perez said he finally started to understand how to get the most out of the car in qualifying.

“We did one good change, which I won’t go into too much in detail about obviously. But also just learning about the asphalt, I think, through qualifying and playing with the balance and finding that rhythm was much more important than I really thought.

“I really got a good understanding in qualifying finally. So now I’m looking forward myself for tomorrow. I’m sure that will be able to translate that into race pace.”

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Perez endured a dire Saturday at the Australian Grand Prix last month, in which he repeatedly skidded off the track and ended up being eliminated in Q1. He said his problems this weekend were not as bad as that experience.

“I think if things turned to bad, probably I would be P4 or P3. But no, Melbourne, hopefully never again. I was just literally far with balance, with confidence. I think it’s one of those weekends where if things don’t go in your favour, then you just start to lose confidence and you start to overthink things.

“I’m just so pleased that I delivered when it mattered, because I had a pretty good idea through qualifying. I think I managed to learn a lot and just put the lap in when it really mattered.”

He predicted the car’s handling will be “a lot easier” to live with in the race. “Already yesterday I had very good pace, although I was struggling for balance.

“Straightaway, we put fuel in the car and things come more naturally to me. The problem was putting the tyres up to temperature and taking that little tenth of peak grip, I was struggling with that massively.”

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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