Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2023 post-season test

Perez targets qualifying gains in 2024 as “Sunday form has been very, very strong”

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by and

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.

The Red Bull RB19 dominated car, but Perez consistently struggled with it in qualifying. He claimed two poles, but only made the front row of a grand prix on two other occasions while team mate 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.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

39 comments on “Perez targets qualifying gains in 2024 as “Sunday form has been very, very strong””

  1. I wouldn’t say Perez’s race pace was “very strong”. Max was often times pulling away from him like he was driving another car. Miami pops in mind first. He must improve everywhere, because he should be closer to Max. And not thinking about the championships when winning one or two races. We saw what happened this year and last year as well. He should be focusing on each race race and not looking further.

    1. Perez’s races are often compromized as a result of bad qualifying. Being in the middle of the pack requires more racing and thus is more demanding on the tyres, compromizing his race even further. So I agree better qualifying would help him a lot.

      1. Perez also had a much harder time overtaking cars than Max, in situations where they both drive in the dirty air. So then it’s his own fault that he drives in the dirty air for longer.

  2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    29th November 2023, 9:22

    I really hope the other teams make a step up otherwise we are in for another appalling season.

    I criticised Mercedes for renewing Bottas year after year – why let Perez keep that seat. P2 in the championship was a given in that car and he tried his best to muck it up. Just try someone else otherwise it could cost them the constructors again.

  3. Perez’s qualifying performance throughout his career has been consistently mediocre, how he will improve it, I have no idea. Additionally, his race pace hasn’t been exceptional. His primary advantage lies in his driving style that adapts perfectly to the Pirelli tyres resulting in their extended longevity. However, if Mercedes or Ferrari can closely rival Red Bull throughout a season, then losing the constructors’ championship becomes almost inevitable.

    1. and Max probably is better at the maintain the tire life than Perez as well.

      1. Yeah, it seems this year Perez didn’t really have any advantage on tire management vs Max

        1. Because he starts often in the middle of the pack, and therefore cannot do as much tire management. So a better starting position will make a hugh difference.

  4. Coventry Climax
    29th November 2023, 9:54

    It’s beyond comprehension why Red Bull would wan’t to keep him at all. Despite his nonstop talk about him improving ‘next time’ already, and he can target all he wants, his next season will just be as dismal again. His career was almost over once before – with good reason. Seat or not, and regardless of with what team, his career is still over. Promises, and lots of them, but never any real delivery. Never any consistency, unless you count the talk; the excuses and promises.
    With so many people believing his words, he’d make a great salesman. Personally, given what he’s really showed where it counts, being on track instead of behind a microphone, I wouldn’t even buy a toothpick from him; I’m sure it’d break before getting the job done.

    1. It’s beyond comprehension why Red Bull would wan’t to keep him at all

      This further supports the rumors indicating a shift in dynamics and a power struggle within the top management of RBR, along with a potential reshaping of Helmut Marko’s role.

      Speculation suggests discord between Marko and Horner, with Horner receiving support from the new Red Bull CEO and the Thai shareholders, while Marko has the backing from the Austrian shareholders. It’s evident that, if it was up to Marko like the old days, Perez would have been dropped mid-season.

    2. This is starting to sound like Bottas 2.0. Here comes Perez 3.0_really_final_revAZ-maybe-a-little-tweak-after-summerstop-because-of-failure

      1. @maxv My final Masters thesis submission file read a bit like this. Full_final_lastdraft_confirmed.

    3. But which available driver would do a better job?
      I really don’t see anyone.


      1. Offer them a seat in the Redbull and suddenly almost all drivers will be “available”, I guess. I think the question is do Redbull really want someone closer to Verstappen? So far it’s been working perfectly and any change in dynamics could bring the Verstappen of old with all his tempers back.

        1. I agree and your question is very valid.
          It has worked out very well for Red Bull. They got the constructors title and they got the 1-2 in the drivers championship too. I don’t see how the result can get any better.

  5. I’m pretty sure if Mercedes had been snapping at their heels then Perez would already be gone. I mean he has to put this PR out there that things will get better next year because this year wasn’t good enough. All his Sunday “form” showed was how much of an advantage the car had it in pace wise compared to the rest of the field in race conditions. Being consistently half a second slower than your teammate is dire.

  6. Perez can be a different level of deluded at times. If he genuinely believes his sunday form was ‘very, very strong’, then he has clearly seen something that no one else on the planet has. Most people look at his qualifying form as ‘very, very, very poor’ and his raceday form as ‘very poor’.

  7. In the final few races of the season he lost a better finishing position on the final lap to slower cars twice. What’s strong about that?

    1. at least he finished in the top 10.

      1. For someone with a far better car than anyone else except 1 person, it’s not impressive at all to finish in the top 10.

  8. A common or garden farmed rabbit says he will be a wild Siberian hare. It happens all the time.

  9. Perez scored 20 less points in 2023 than in 2022 despite having three more sprint races and a far more exceptional car advantage. Couldn’t believe it when I looked it up.
    That doesn’t mean Perez can forget about improving his qualifying game, but he’s deluding himself if he believes his Sunday form has been good.

    1. That’s not how the season started though… He became a lot slower as the season progressed and he got a boost of speed in races towards the end so he can get P2. Too much fluctuation for him to be in control of that.

  10. If they don’t demote PER to the junior team or let him go, I think it points to RB knowing that the setup for PER’s car is not as good as the setup on the #1 car. If the cars are truly the same, then the decision is simple.

    1. @jimfromus exactly… they would have put Tsunoda or Daniel there mid-season. Red Bull are clearly in possession of information that the rest of us don’t have.

      The same goes for Gasly and Albon. They should have kicked Gasly out of F1 like they did Buemi and Algersuari but they allowed him to drop to TR where he flourished and he’s doing pretty well against Ocon who was ranked #8 on this site last year in a season against Alonso where he ranked #4 in the Alpine.

    2. Do you also believe the earth is flat? Because that makes as much logical sense as RB deliberately providing an inferior car to Perez. Honestly, what utter nonsense.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        30th November 2023, 6:05

        Because that makes as much logical sense as RB deliberately providing an inferior car to Perez. Honestly, what utter nonsense.

        So it makes more sense to you to keep a proven slow driver in the fastest car in F1? Have the rules changed and the slowest driver will win the championship in 2024? In that case, it would make a lot of sense to keep Perez in a Red Bull and you’d be right.

        If Perez is staying, it’s because Horner and Marko think he’s the fastest second driver they can get in that Red Bull. They actually have 3 extra driver all of who drove in F1 last season, namely Tsunoda, Lawson, and Ricciardo, that can replace Checo any weekend.

        In case you think that’s utter nonsense too, it’s not. Red Bull currently has 5 F1 drivers they can choose from and have done so in the past. They have even replaced drivers mid-season demoting the other driver to Alpha Tauri.

  11. Perez is driving better than ever before. He just has more eyes on him every week, a consistent car and a relentless team mate as benchmark.
    It’s easy to think Perez is over performing when his team is Sauber or FI and his team mate is Kobayashi or Stroll. How good did he look in McLaren alongside Button? Having good races or looking not too bad against the Ocons and Hulkenbergs of the sport is one thing, being teammates with Michael, Fernando or Max will probably hurt your feelings unless you’re good enough to belong to this short list of great drivers.
    It’s unfair to expect from Perez what he never was. It’s unfair and unhealthy for him to expect that from himself, way to have a burnout.

    1. That’s making the assumption that Max is ultra, ultra fast. Maybe… Who knows?

      Max is quick but the other quickest driver in the Red Bull was Daniel Ricciardo so I guess he may be as quick as Daniel if he joined another team. Will he be Renault quick or McLaren quick?

      Perez’s season fluctuated as much as the stock market this year starting strong, then suddenly falling 100 laps behind Max at Spa where they are practically at full throttle for a huge part of the race with Max even joking that he can pit and make up the time on Checo (GP was not pleased by the comment as it suggested that Max’s car had even more pace despite Brundle calling Max’s car a different category car while Checo’s clearly didn’t) that and then appearing semi-performant at the end. That’s a lot of confidence to say that you have 20 extra seconds in your car over the sister car over 10-15 laps.

      What we do know is that Max hates pressure while racing and can’t cope with it and everyone knows that who makes the decisions so they’ll never put him in that spot. He’s definitely the opposite of Hamilton and Alonso when it comes to that.

      Who knows how quick Max or Checo are? The only objective measure is their performance outside Red Bull.

      1. Very interesting reasoning.

        1. > Very interesting reasoning.

          I find the ‘facts’ especially interesting, like the idea that Max called for a pit stop when Perez was close behind him, causing him to have to make up a pit stop, rather than when he was already a pit stop ahead.

  12. What is Perez smoking?

  13. I don’t know what you guy expect Perez to say. “I’m at my peak and just want for 2024 to have the same result like this year”?
    Every pilot who still wants to win a championship needs to do better than the previous year and be analytic on his weakness. Surley if Perez improves his Saturdays the championship for Red Bull would be clinched before summer break, and surley Perez is not an elite driver and needs to drive at a 110% to even match a Verstapen regular drive.
    Red Bull has taken the safer route to favoured Verstapeen in the upgrades and progress, but that doesn’t mean that if Perez did not adapt to it he must be drop from the team.
    I think that Perez has been the desired driver for Red Bull. A teammate of a champion that has been able to improves when the upgrades don’t suit his driving style. And those upgrades, as far as Verstappen has been in the team, will never goes his way (it would be fool for RB to do that).
    And also Red Bull would be wrong in dropping Perez in terms of publicity and merchandise revenues in America (the whole continent) and the sponsroship he brig to the team. No other driver bring those kind of sponsors without being a champion.

    1. Maybe fact based optimism would be a better approach. Like say this

      “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.”

      Bu not this:

      I think the Sunday form has been very, very strong this year. That’s the only reason we finished P2 the championship,”

      1. Indeed, the car is the only reason he finished 2nd, and more than half the current grid would’ve finished 2nd in the red bull in a season like this.

  14. Angle the car characteristics more towards Perez. Simple.

    Verstappen has way more pace in hand than needed and the fact that Red Bull won’t budge, then wonder why Perez is off the pace, is quite amusing.

    1. No team is going to make the car slower to favor the 2nd best driver.

  15. “Sunday form” wasn’t much good in Vegas.

  16. I think Perez is actually worse on Sundays. The car is so much more capable, and hes struggling for those decisive moves. I believe this to be in part due to him not owning his own racing rhythm and the fact that hes probably 1/2 second down on his teammate, at least, at all times, due to him being the #2 and probably getting less attention than did Hamilton in the last race of the year. So its not normal to see him struggling for Q3 or to get around cars. BUT, his race pace needs big time improvement, and hes got to learn to take Max’s setup and work for him, because RBR will NEVER set the car up for him, and will only use him for data analysis, or what ever, they might even gimp his car by giving it more down force, when the problem is he needs to learn to work around Max’s racing techniques, which RBR base their car around, period.

Comments are closed.