Perez sees similarity to last year after losing confidence in car’s handling again

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez says the development direction Red Bull have taken with their car led him to lose confidence in its handling again, as also happened last year.

He has fallen 125 points behind team mate Max Verstappen over the first 12 races of the season. Perez also endured a run of five consecutive races in which he failed to reach the final stage during qualifying.

However he enjoyed an upswing in form before the summer break, taking a pair of podium finishes and helping Red Bull to a one-two result at the last round in Belgium. Speaking to media at Zandvoort today, Perez admitted that had been a timely development. “It was quite important to finish strong the last two races especially,” he said.

“There is no secret, as the car developed, I struggled a little bit more, things were not coming naturally anymore. I had to go very deep on them, on my driving style, adapt to it quite a bit and change it because the car has simply changed. And I think in the last two races were a lot better in that regard.”

Perez described how the changes in the RB19’s handling had made it especially tricky to master in damp, low-grip conditions.

“It’s just the sharpness, basically, at medium and high-speed that I’ve been struggling with,” he said. “And that, especially when we had tricky conditions, did change.

“It takes away some of the confidence. But I’m okay with it, it’s something that’s another challenge for me so I’m looking forward to that.”

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Getting to grips with the car’s handling is “not easy because with the amount of practice we have, you kind of follow one direction or the other and then you get stuck with it for the rest of the weekend,” Perez added. “So it is not an easy situation for a driver to have.”

While Perez was making up for his poor qualifying performances on race days, Verstappen started a run of eight consecutive grand prix victories which has all but guaranteed he will win the championship again this year. Perez said “it hasn’t been easy for me” seeing his team mate amass such a huge lead “because I know the car’s potential and Max has been exploiting that.”

“But when you don’t really have that feeling, that you know that your car has massive potential, it’s not an easy situation as a driver to be in. But certainly we’ve got a great race car and we just have to make sure we utilise it because you never know when you’re going to have a car that is as good as this one.”

He admitted he went through a similar experience with the team’s car last year. “I think in a way, yes,” he said. “It happened again.”

He is hopeful that changes the team have made during the summer break will help him get on top of the RB19.

“I think we have understood a lot of things, especially on the development side, how we can figure it out,” he said. “The team really knows what I really like and what I do feel more comfortable at.

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“We’ve done some improvements during the summer break to try to make me feel more comfortable. So hopefully this second half of the season we can show a good improvement.”

“I’m not where I want to be yet where I was in the beginning of the season where things were coming a lot more natural to me,” he added. “But we’ve done some good work, as I say, and I believe that we will only keep improving from now.”

Although Verstappen has been happier with the balance of his car, Perez does not believe the team set out to change it to favour his team mate more. “At the end of the day the team is trying to make the fastest car and sometimes the development suits one style better than the other,” he said. “That’s just how it works.”

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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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24 comments on “Perez sees similarity to last year after losing confidence in car’s handling again”

  1. I guess we’ll see how close behind Verstappen he manages to stay in the coming races.

  2. It happens every year. Perez starts off well, challenges Max—and then drastically slumps in performance. Every year, the same story being given is car direction going away from him.

    1. Every year, the same story being given is car direction going away from him.

      Ironically, or not – it’s the same story that every one of Verstappen’s team mate has also expressed.
      It couldn’t be because it’s actually true, could it…?

      Other teams have done/do it too – and those drivers also state the same things.
      It’s an unfortunate aspect of F1 that can’t/won’t be removed without going full spec – and even then, teams will often give preference to one of their drivers in other ways.

      1. Maybe because Max understand the car faster …….. ofcourse this isn’t possible ofcourse….

        Adrian Newey makes the car and the drivers have to adjust so when he changed the suspension this year both drivers were have problems but was more to see when conditions for cold and wet as the RB has to work to get heat in the tyres (that is why they are great on tyrewear) which Perez style with late breaking isn’t in his advantage and to adjust his driving style is hard.

        1. Maybe because Max understand the car faster …….. ofcourse this isn’t possible ofcourse….

          Not only is that possible, it’s probable. But that’s not the point.
          Perez was happy with the car at the beginning of the year and the team were comfortably taking 1-2’s by quite a margin – then it changed and they haven’t changed it back. Not even just Perez’s car, leaving Verstappen with his personalised toy – the current version of it that they both have to use is not faster for Perez, and certainly doesn’t inspire his confidence.

          Newey knows quite well what (and who) he’s designing cars for. He also knows what his two drivers want from the car.
          This is not the first time it’s happened at Red Bull, and it won’t be the last. They’ve been doing it since ~2010 – and while it’s bringing them WDC’s they probably won’t stop. They don’t need the money from the WCC – they prefer the marketing opportunities from having the driver of the moment. That suits their brand far better.

        2. Aren’t you contradicting yourself though? If he were able to come to grips with the car more quickly than Perez, should we not then see a wider gap at the start of the season, where both drivers have limited experience, and then see that gap reduce over time as they accumulated more experience?

          1. Aren’t you contradicting yourself though?

            The scale of adaptation required and the speed of adaptation are not the same thing.

      2. Not this again. I think it is perfectly natural for an athlete on the back foot to make a statement like this. Especially in big ego environments like F1. Don’t believe a word of it, ever.

        1. So you’re saying that Perez (plus Albon, Gasly, Ricciardo, Kvyat and Webber) are all just making excuses, despite all experiencing the same process?
          You’re also saying that the team has never prioritised car development to favour a particular driver or driving style?

          That’d be exactly like saying that Ferrari have never done it either.

          Red Bull have publicly said that that’s what they do – even going so far as to explicitly state that they prioritise the WDC over the WCC (and by definition, one particular driver over the team as a whole).

          1. The others are making excuses. You can’t expect a racing driver to state they are not as fast as their team mate. They have to blame outside factors. It’s business. They have to remain in demand. As from a constructors perspective it would be very unwise as well given their business model is based on achieving maximum number of points in the WCC.

  3. Coventry Climax
    24th August 2023, 19:38

    And it’ll probably be the other way round too:
    Red Bull sees similarity to last year after Perez losing confidence in car’s handling again.
    Bye bye Perez, you’re just not good enough in a car. Excuses, that’s what you’re good at.

  4. Red Bull had “upgrades” at Baku – which was your best weekend and Hungary – where you got a podium.

    Just admit you had a bad run – and stop giving excuses.

    It’s almost like clockwork at this point. Car goes fast, Perez goes slow, and blames development, good enough to keep delusion alive in the F1 fanbase, which is already populated with conspiracy nuts. Rinse and repeat.

    If sharpness is costing you 1 second a lap, retire from motor racing. What a shameless driver.

    1. Well, he does mention that they looked into what was behind it and worked to adress things, so that update could actually have been part of that. Or maybe it is just that when the car is so much faster than any other, it’s easier to skirt around the issues with it that make driving is hard for you. Nothing here goes against what he said.

    2. +1. I’ve said it many times before.. there are way too many mediocre drivers in these few seats available. This needs fixing. Pinnacle of Motorsport? Not so sure…

  5. I recommend Peter Windsor’s YouTube videos on ‘short corners’ for an interesting insight. He focuses on the difference between ‘apex cornerers’ who brake later and hit the geometric apex (Perez being an example, but it’s most drivers) and drivers who start dabbing the brakes earlier to balance the car into the corner and take a shorter line in, allowing them more speed and to accelerate out earlier (Max the prime example currently, also Lewis, especially pre-2022: since the new design, he’s had to adjust his driving style somewhat to deal with the cars flaws). One intriguing aspect is that braking and balancing the car earlier, he argues, leaves more margin for correcting errors, while apex cornering tends to narrow that bandwidth. Maybe helps explain why Perez finds the car too ‘sharp’, especially in damp conditions, while Verstappen can always be more confident that he has the capacity to deal with any corrections needed.

    1. @david-br Your right Peter Windor explained this several months now with pictures so everyone can understand why.
      I agree with you.

    2. Fully agree with Windsor and you.

  6. Coventry Climax
    25th August 2023, 0:10

    He says they made some changes during the summer break.
    Wasn’t the summer break mandatory, with all factories closed?

    1. “We’ve done some improvements during the summer break to try to make me feel more comfortable. So hopefully this second half of the season we can show a good improvement.”

      I had the same reaction. Thought the factories had to shut down for the break.

      1. The summer break doesn’t extend from the moment the previous GP’s chequered flag is waved until the following practice starts. There is ample time to work.
        Besides – while the factories may well be closed, that doesn’t prevent them all from working from home…

        1. In theory it actually does prevent them from working I think S. But only during the mandatory 2 week closure period of the summer break, the rest of the days and weeks everyone in F1 can just work on.

          1. In theory it actually does prevent them from working I think S.

            It prevents them from working at their usual workplace, sure – but it does not (and can not) prevent them from continuing to do work-related activities at home or in other places.

            Hands up who believes that F1 team aerodynamicists and design engineers don’t have the latest models of their team cars/subsystems on their home PC’s, and aren’t modelling their fresh ideas when they come to them, for example…

    2. Might be simulator work with his personal trainer

  7. I dare say having the number 2 challenge the golden boy was never the plan so they had to make some hasty changes to break his confidence before he got any ideas. It wouldn’t be new behavior for RB.

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