“Wrong call” on strategy led to Q2 elimination – Perez

Formula 1

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Sergio Perez says his Red Bull team made a “wrong call” on their strategy during qualifying for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Perez failed to progress into Q3 for the ninth time in 2023 at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit as he was knocked out in 12th place.

The Red Bull driver sat in the garage during the final minutes of the session and did not head out for a final attempt to improve on his time. He questioned his team “we’ve finished quite early, no?” over team radio, but could only watch as he dropped out of the top ten as well as qualifying itself.

“We had a strategy before qualifying, with the team,” Perez told media including RaceFans after qualifying.

“We don’t know this place and we were thinking what was the best programme and we went this route. Obviously after that, it’s easy to know that it was the wrong call.”

The high track evolution at the new street circuit allowed rivals to improve in the final minutes of Q2 while he remained in the pits, Perez believes.

“Already in Q1, we were a bit lucky to get through, because we didn’t get our final lap coming back to the pits,” he said. “And then in Q2, just finishing the session a little bit too early meant that there was some evolution still on the track and we were in the pits.

“I wasn’t aware that much that we were going to finish that early.

Despite Red Bull’s strategy appearing to backfire, Perez admitted that Red Bull were not at their fastest in qualifying, with Ferrari beating Perez’s team mate Max Verstappen to pole position.

“We didn’t seem to have the ultimate tenths in it today,” Perez said. “So we were lacking a bit of pace out there.”

Starting outside the top 10, Perez expects there will be opportunity to progress through the field in what will likely be a strategic race.

“I think deg[radation] could be potentially really high out there,” he explained. “So plenty of things to look at tomorrow. We will see what we are able to come out with.”

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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11 comments on ““Wrong call” on strategy led to Q2 elimination – Perez”

  1. Maybe Red Bull didn’t time his Q2 run perfectly, but he failed to put a good banker in like his teammate did. I’m surprised he’d push the blame on Red Bull entirely.. he did nothing impressive with a car that belonged on the 2nd row of the grid.

    1. I’m surprised he’d push the blame on Red Bull entirely.

      You shouldn’t be.
      Perez drives what he’s given and only when he’s told to go out and do so. He’s not making the decisions, because he isn’t allowed to.
      He also knows, no doubt, that his job and career no longer depends on him telling stories that only make the team look good.

      Interesting how many people admire Verstappen’s brutal honesty approach, but not so much when Perez does it.

  2. Wrong driver in Red Bull caused a Q2 elimination. Cannot but imagine what Lando or Oscar would be doing in the other RBR. Poor old guy is running out of excuses.

    1. Alonso seems to be doing better than Lando or Oscar for an “old guy.” This isn’t age. It’s mental stress meeting a talent deficit.

  3. One driver is consistently in the top 3, the other driver consistently doesn’t make it to Q3. What could possibly be the variable that causes these different results…

  4. It’s fully how fan opinion on Perez has shifted.

    When he was dropped by racing point in favour of Vettel there was outrage that a driver as good as Perez could be left without a good seat. Fans were then happy when he got the Red Bull drive & were praising him earlier in the year when he was in contention for wins.

    Yet as soon as he starts to struggle suddenly Sergio is an awful driver who doesn’t deserve a seat.

    You don’t forget how to drive in the space of a few races so it’s likely Red Bull have simply developed the car more towards Max which is hurting Sergio more given there completely different driving styles. If that’s the case can you really pin all the blame on sergio, Especially since this is something Red Bull have done to other drivers who have gone on to perform better in other cars (Albon & race winner Gasly for example).

    Also interesting how Ferrari were regularly torn apart for apparent favouritism in developing cars to suit Michael Schumacher as clear #1 at the expense of the #2 driver yet in this case it’s just all purely Sergio forgetting how to drive.

    This is why its good that fans aren’t team bosses or making any decisions of any note as it’s clear most fans don’t know what they are talking about.

    1. I cannot relate to any of that (the thinking Perez has a place in F1 or is any good). Maybe some did think so. I remember the same happened at the start of 2022. Some forget it takes more than being fast to be a good racing driver. Consistency for instance is also important. I was never a fan of getting the Perez’ and Hulkenbergs back from retirement. F1 needs to seriously address the level of the drivers. With only 20 seats in the world it is quite staggering we have to look at some in those cars. Inexplicable as well if you ask me. As to the perpetual ‘car is developed towards Verstappen’; I feel that has been debunked so many times and even Perez himself has stated it is not the case. It is surprising to see it pop up again. It’s an excuse. The Schumachers, Hamiltons and Verstappens are the level we need and they will declassify their team mates given their level, and especially they will if you allow less skilled drivers into one of those 20 seats. It has little to do with team preference. F1 Academy needs to step up and step in. Nice and long overdue to give women a chance but a missed chance to not broaden this to a larger group and helping more and more talent to get a chance. We are now just looking at a subset out of a very privileged group. More talent is out there and it will improve the racing versus these lesser ones that clutter the field now.

      1. As to the perpetual ‘car is developed towards Verstappen’; I feel that has been debunked so many times and even Perez himself has stated it is not the case.

        You feel it wrong. The opposite is true, actually, as stated by Red Bull themselves.
        And Perez is contractually obliged to not bring his employer into public disrepute. The worst he can say is “We got it wrong today” – however, “The team screwed me again” is not acceptable, even if it is completely true.

        1. Excuses, excuses.

        2. The team develop it toward being faster. Not toward Max. Sergio just can’t drive the car in that configuration. You don’t see Ricciardo saying his performance was purely down to the car. He said the car didn’t suit him AND he failed to adapt. He recognized that he was part of the problem. Perez has also recognized this in many statements. But when he has a small variable go against him, he tend to point his finger toward that.

  5. It’s getting old.

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