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