Perez admits he’s “two steps behind” after qualifying 0.7s off Verstappen at Suzuka

Formula 1

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Sergio Perez admitted he hasn’t been able to get on terms with team mate’s Max Verstappen’s pace at Suzuka this weekend.

The two Red Bull drivers were consistently separated by more than half a second during practice and qualifying. While Verstappen claimed pole position, Perez lapped 0.773 seconds slower than his team mate and will line up fifth.

“I think definitely P2, front row, was on the cards today,” he admitted afterwards, saying he had been left at a disadvantage by only having one new set of soft tyres for Q3.

“Just missing that second set in Q2, when he used an extra set was not ideal and that put us on the back foot to the McLaren mainly by just having a one set of new tyres. That was not ideal.”

Perez admitted he hadn’t been on Verstappen’s pace throughout much of the weekend. “It was hard,” he told the official F1 website. “We did struggle through the weekend.

“We kind of were always two steps behind and we just couldn’t get the entry stability I was looking to get over a single lap.

“But come race day I think we are looking a lot better. I think that tomorrow is going to be such a degradation tyre battle that hopefully tomorrow we can still be able to do a one-two.”

In qualifying Perez lost over four tenths of a second to Verstappen in the first sector alone, which is largely comprised of high-speed corners. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Verstappen had kept raising the bar in the quickest corners on the Suzuka circuit.

“He’s slightly under the car compared to Max in those high-speed turns,” Horner told Sky. “He’s closed the gap in high-speed turns but Max keeps moving it. But P5 for Checo, I think he’ll have strong race pace, we saw that yesterday so I think he’ll be okay in the race.”

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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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5 comments on “Perez admits he’s “two steps behind” after qualifying 0.7s off Verstappen at Suzuka”

  1. Checo, come on, you’ve always been a pretty decent driver. And you started this season well enough. It is OK if you cannot beat Max, nobody alive can I reckon, not even Nando. But you should be in the podium (almost) every race, and win in the rare occasion when Max drops the ball or something happens to him.
    Take heart, Checo, and do not let 2nd in the WDC escape, even if if is “first of the losers”

    1. To be honest, he has never been anything more than decent. I never understood why the media bumped him up so much. Only clarification I had was that there was a huge lobby coming from Carlos Slim for it. He had a couple of victories at RP only because others dropped the ball or because he got extremely lucky with red flags or SC situations. Never because of pure pace. The guy is not even in the top 10 drivers on the grid.

      1. It wasn’t a couple, it was just one. He was actually trailing Stroll until late into the season, then won that race, got the podim at Turkey and other results and got ahead confortably.
        There is a reason why he only got a shot at a top team after so long and as a supporting role. He’s reliable, experienced and fast, but nothing special. A typical journeyman.

        I think Hulkenberg would do a better job than him on that Red Bull because Hulk was the faster driver of the two during their time together. Perez’s strenght back then was strategy, tyre usage and luck. With a car like this(and any other, for that matter) the key is to qualify it as best as you can, and Perez was never a good qualifier.

        So the race didn’t even started yet and he’s already on the backfoot. Again.

  2. Apparently, being informed is not a prerequisite to comment on this site! Perez just got the “new Floor” that Max has had for how many races? The big question is why isn’t he saying anythinhg about it?

  3. Suzuka is all about commitment into high speed corners and that’s precisely where Perez says he’s lacking confidence in the car (his control of it) to commit. Add to that Verstappen’s determination to prove Singapore was a one off and that gap to Verstappen sadly makes a lot of sense.

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