Perez says Spanish GP set-up struggle was “turning point” in his season

Formula 1

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Red Bull driver Sergio Perez says that his poor performance at the Spanish Grand Prix was the ‘turning point’ in his 2023 title challenge.

Perez looks near certain to officially lose the 2023 world championship to his team mate this weekend at the Qatar Grand Prix. Max Verstappen needing just a sixth place in Saturday’s sprint race to ensure he wins the title.

Despite being within six points of Verstappen in the drivers’ standings after winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in late April, Perez has lost 171 points to his team mate in the 12 rounds since.

Perez finished just off the podium in Barcelona for the seventh round of the championship in fourth place after starting 11th on the grid. He pointed to that weekend as being the genesis of his struggles with the RB19 relative to his team mate.

“First of all, Max has done a tremendous job. I think no credit should be taken away from this season that he has done,” Perez said. “I think he’s driven on another level compared to anyone else and I think that’s something that I have a lot of respect for.

“Secondly, from my side, I feel like Barcelona was quite a turning point. I was always chasing the weekend. Sometimes you have weekends where things are coming a lot more naturally and you’re just two or three steps ahead. I feel like since Barcelona, I was starting to struggle and have some deficits with the car.”

His difficulties with finding a comfortable feeling in his Red Bull continued through the last two rounds in Singapore and Japan, Perez admitted.

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“Asia wasn’t good for me at all, Singapore and obviously Suzuka,” he said.

“It’s mainly the direction we took with the set-up of the car,” Perez added. “Now looking back at it, we do understand where it went wrong and I really hope that we are able to have a much more straightforward weekend here.

“But I think we’ve learned a lot what went wrong in Suzuka, so I do expect to be in a much better position this weekend.”

Despite his troubles, Perez remains in second place in the drivers’ championship, 33 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Perez says he is eager to keep hold of his second place to the end of the season, something he was unable to do last year after being beaten by Charles Leclerc.

“It’s important because that’s the best I can get now,” he said.

“More than that, to me it’s very important to finish the season on a high too, because that only helps the start of next year. So to me it’s very important to get on top of it and make sure that we are able to deliver in the next six races.”

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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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11 comments on “Perez says Spanish GP set-up struggle was “turning point” in his season”

  1. There have been more turning points in Perez his season than corners on an avg track.

    1. Exactly. He’s just making himself look more foolish at this point with a new excuse every day.

    2. The way I see it, the turning point was Miami, after that swap there was never a doubt who was boss

  2. Fingers crossed he’s right and things improve going forwards.

    His form this season is not representative of his talent.

    1. Yes it is

  3. José Lopes da Silva
    5th October 2023, 22:08

    I remember that Riccardo Patrese won races in 1990 and 1991. Then the FW14B was not for his characteristics. After that, in B193 his performances completely sunk.

    1. He won races because that car was amazing. He was never anything special. That’s why he was always a popular teammate.

      1. Mark from Toronto
        6th October 2023, 2:24

        So how do you say that and then think Max is so special? We have seen him struggle against the Mercs. If you have never raced, you have no idea how you can get totally lost in the setup.

        1. I am not a Max fan and never said anything about Max in my post.

        2. Why are you bringing up Max in this i have seen Riccardo racing while he is a good driver his ability to adjust wasn’t that great.
          And Max adjusted after Baku to the new car and Perez didn’t ….
          Maybe you noticed Max scores several wins even when the Mercedes was so superior. When he got a comparable car he was beating the Mercedes quit often.

          1. By which you mean that you are applying your assumptions about the relative strengths of the cars, given you don’t actually have any objective data for either car, and are instead imposing your assumptions to justify your beliefs about how well Max performs.

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