Sergio Perez has said his race day form was “very, very strong” during the 2023 season and a key reason why he scored the runner-up spot in the championship.Max Verstappen was on pole 12 times and his average starting position of 3.2 was significantly better than Perez’s 9.3.
“I think the Sunday form has been very, very strong this year. That’s the only reason we finished P2 the championship,” he said after the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “Definitely Saturdays have been very difficult this season and it’s something we’ve got to work on and make sure that we take a gear there and we improve for next year.”
Two days after climbing from ninth to fourth in Abu Dhabi, Perez was back on track for the post-season test day where – with no new car parts to test – the focus was all on development specification tyres and improving his own driving.
“It’s so much learning, so productive as well,” he said. “It was good and important to put in the time and it’s been another productive day. Especially coming out of a race, everything is really fresh.”
Perez was fourth fastest in the test, 0.322 seconds off the pace but 0.951s faster than Formula E champion Jake Dennis who drove Verstappen’s car.
“It is very important to be able to have these sort of days together with the team, because we get some homework to hone, that we are able to work on and be productive,” Perez added.
“It’s been dominant for Red Bull, yes, but it was quite tough for me. So it is what it is. I’m sure we’re going to have a great car again next year. Hopefully a little bit nicer balance on my side, and hopefully we can keep this domination going as a team.”
Perez valued the test day particularly because of the lack of in-season testing that F1 now has. Having the same opportunity earlier in the season could have made his championship “a lot different,” he believes.
“Obviously these days you don’t have any testing. And even in the testing, you are so restricted with the things you can play on and with the time and with the tyres.
“But overall I’m grateful for the difficult season I had because it taught me a lot about the car, about the philosophy in Red Bull, understanding a lot more the concept of the car, and I really hope that this will pay off next year.”
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2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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