Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2023

Perez should have “easily” been on the front row of the grid – Horner

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner made clear his displeasure at Sergio Perez’s failure to join his team mate on the front row of the grid at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Perez qualified 15th for Sunday’s race after each of his flying laps in Q2 were deleted for track limits infringements. Horner said the team made it “crystal clear” to Perez he needed to leave more margin to ensure he posted a lap time which got him into Q3.

“He’s got the pace today,” Horner told Sky. “He’s got a car that was easily capable of being on the first or second row, he was matching Max’s times – stay in the white lines.

“It was strike one, strike two – ‘Checo, just stay in the white lines’, strike three – and that was it.”

While Verstappen was quickest in Q2 with a 1’04.951, Perez needed to set at least a 1’05.386 to secure a place in the final 10. Horner said he was easily capable of doing that while leaving more room for error in the two fast corners at the end of the lap where most of the track limits violations occured.

“It’s hugely frustrating because the frustrating thing is we know he can do it,” said Horner. “He did a [one minute] 4.9 on that lap, he was three hundredths off Max. He could have been four tenths slower and still been in.

“In Q2, that’s not the time to be doing it. So that was the frustrating thing because he could have done it today.”

Perez blamed Alexander Albon for getting in his way at turn 10 on his last effort to claim a place in Q3. “It’s not going to have helped” said Horner, “but then you build in a little bit more margin.”

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“So Checo’s frustrated, we’ll turn the page, he’ll race hard tomorrow, but it’s just annoying because we know he could have been there,” Horner added.

Perez has now failed to reach Q3 in more than half of the events this year including all of the last four. Horner believes his driver is putting himself under too much pressure to challenge his team mate Max Verstappen, who has pulled well ahead of him in the championship.

“The pressure he’s under is the pressure he puts on himself,” said Horner. “Today he had the pace. In practice one he was right there. The lap times he was doing, he was tenth for tenth with Max today. So that’s the annoying thing, that’s the frustration, he can do it.

“I think it’s just a great shame because I think this would have really kick-started things for him. And of course, the frustration for us as a team is now we have two Ferraris who are a little closer versus one Red Bull with Checo out of position.”

Verstappen also saw some of his lap times deleted for track limits infringements, but Horner said he reacted to the team’s warnings.

“At least he responded. We said ‘stay in the white lines’ and he did that. He built a conservatism into his laps to make sure that he had a wheel inside the line.

“I think there was a little bit more time in the car, in that last sector, if he [had] gone for it. So, it was driving with a bit of restraint.”

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2023 Austrian 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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16 comments on “Perez should have “easily” been on the front row of the grid – Horner”

  1. He indeed didn’t lack pace, but unfortunately, that’s irrelevant if staying on track is difficult.

  2. Checo should have “easily” kept it on the racing surface.

    Alas, he didn’t, and so he won’t be.

  3. Felipe Araya
    30th June 2023, 20:00

    Switching with Albon or Tsunoda in that seat would be fun.

  4. Last four qualifying sessions:
    Verstappen: 1, 1, 1, 1
    Perez: 20, 11, 12, 15
    Verstappen makes staying in that number 2 Red Bull very easy.

  5. Shut up, Horner. Would like to see you try.

    1. Didn’t know Chris Horner has a F1 superlicence

  6. Horner’s comment about Perez – similar to AlphaTauri with Nyck de Vries perhaps?

    1. Why should he shut up.. this was all on Perez.14 other drivers managed to stay in the lines.

      1. Indeed, that shut up comment feels very anti-horner, which makes me think the poster would complain about horner no matter what.

  7. While I’d love to see Albon back beside Max now that he’s matured a bit, Perez is there now and is a solid driver. We’ve seen great drivers break their team mates many times. Perez still has time to sort it out but it does seem like he’s his own worst enemy at the moment.

    Re: track limits… could the final 2 turns be made into one sweeping corner?? Austria is a track limit anomoly so a track specific solution might be the answer? Relaxing rules just means they run 3 meters over the line. I don’t think we want to go back there.

    1. Albon in a Red Bull would be a lethal combo

  8. Nacho Nachev
    1st July 2023, 3:56

    Checo might be doing this on purpose, so he can enjoy having an eventful race with the great car he is driving :)

    1. That would make sense if he came back to 2nd but he often doesn’t!

  9. The old “if my aunt had something she’d be…”.

  10. Max was less than half a tenth ahead of Leclerc, so not sure what Horner is on about.

    1. Yes, was about to say this too, it wouldn’t have been enough to be “easily” on the front row, he’d have had to make the same laptime as verstappen, who wrings out more in q3.

      However I agree with horner on the “he didn’t have to push, could’ve been 4 tenths slower”, was what I thought, no point doing verstappen’s times in q2 when you can be fine with 10th.

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