Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Losail International Circuit, 2021

Perez insists lessons from “worst weekend” in Qatar will make him stronger for 2024

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Red Bull driver Sergio Perez says he is confident of being a stronger driver in 2024 after learning “a lot” from his challenges in 2023.

Perez took a career best finish of second in the drivers’ championship behind team mate Max Verstappen last year but his season was plagued with mistakes, frustrations and disappointing results.

He won just two grands prix all season – both in the opening four rounds – while Verstappen dominated the championship with 19 victories from the other 20 events. He endured a run of five consecutive rounds without reaching Q3 between Monaco and Silverstone and only scored one podium finish over the final eight rounds of the season, finishing with under half Verstappen’s points total despite claiming second in the standings.

“I think I had some really difficult times for a few months, let’s put it that way,” Perez told select media including RaceFans. “I went from fighting for the championship to be really on a difficult boat and really not having that confidence with the car. When that happens, it’s really difficult as a driver to really exploit it all. So that was becoming a bit of a limitation.”

Perez admitted that he took some time following the Qatar Grand Prix – where he was classified tenth after multiple track limits penalties as Verstappen won from pole – to sit down in Red Bull’s Milton Keynes factory and work through the data with his team to analyse why he was at such a performance deficit to his team mate.

“It was such a hole this year that we really got together after Qatar and we understood a lot of things we were doing with the car,” he said. “So I think that has been really, really good on our side. I mean, it was bad that it happened, but in a way it was really good because it really strengthened up our team quite a lot.

“Because Qatar was really the worst weekend that I remember in a while in the sport, probably my worst weekend ever in the sport. It was such a bad weekend that I really felt like ‘I cannot be this bad, there’s something else going on’. So we really took the time to understand what was going on with the car quite a lot.”

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With Red Bull replacing AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries with reserve driver and veteran Daniel Ricciardo midway through the season, media speculation began to grow over whether Perez’s seat at Red Bull Racing may be in question, despite his contract for 2024. Although team principal Christian Horner told RaceFans there was “not one conversation internally” about Perez’s position within the team, the driver himself insists he has never been concerned by such talk.

“To be honest, I was not really thinking of it,” he said. “As a driver, I think I was more focused on making sure I could enjoy the weekends and be able to have that.

“I was having some weekends where it was so difficult that they were not fun. I’m here because I still love what I’m doing and I’m here because I still have a lot of fun, a lot of enjoyment. And that was my main focus, that we really need things to turn them around.

“I always say it, I don’t think of them [the rumours]. I think just there are a lot of drivers that they just want to move up into a better seat. That’s just how the sport runs and operates. That’s just part of how the sport works. So I’m just focusing on myself, on my team, to be the best version I can be as a driver.”

Heading into a new year, Perez insists that he will be a stronger driver over the upcoming season after everything he claims he learned from 2023.

“I’m aware of the year I had,” he said. “I think I’ve learned a lot, and I’m happy with that on how we managed to turn our season around and really come out of it stronger than before and making good use of those bad days.”

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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...
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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23 comments on “Perez insists lessons from “worst weekend” in Qatar will make him stronger for 2024”

  1. Blah blah blah, hopeless I’ll be closer to Max delusion, blah blah blah.

    1. Sure he’ll be good at the first two street circuits and it will fuel the debate again he is in contention. Short lived memories.

  2. I’m sure RB will have something in mind to ensure he doesn’t get ideas above his “station”.

    1. Yes, of course they have. It would be too simple if it just was Max being a better driver than Checo. It has to be intentional sabotage from his own team. Makes much more sense.

      1. RB’s always been a team with a golden boy and “other guy”. Webber didn’t say “not bad for a number 2 driver” for no reason and the team’s not changed since.

        1. You do realize there is a world of difference between a top team having a clear #1 driver, which is quite common, and a team actively sabotaging one of its two drivers, which would be so stupid it only exists in the minds of paranoid ‘fans’ who need to have something to hang their alternate reality upon?

          1. Hyperbole. The “sabotage” of the non-preferred driver often takes the form of the worst of split strategies – costs the team nothing.

        2. Webber is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed nor a gifted driver, so I would be inclined to disregard any comments from him. I think it is common within a team to have a difference in strength between drivers. When they are on equal level it is often because one is near the end of his career and the other just starting. Anyway, the difference between drivers at RedBull can be 100% attributed to their level of talent & performance. There isn’t anything else playing. And quite frankly especially at RedBull this is blatantly clear as one driver is a generational talent and the other should have been retired long ago and is only still around since Ricciardo made an unforeseen move to Renault.

  3. Coventry Climax
    2nd January 2024, 18:59

    I prefer the lyrics by Aerosmith, even if Perez’ is the same song basically.

    1. ba dum tss

  4. If Perez drove for Aston Martin he’d be beaten regularly by Lance Stroll.

    1. There’s an argument he had a worse season than stroll this year (so I don’t really agree with people saying he did what red bull expected from him because he got 2nd, anyone would’ve got 2nd with this car), however I don’t think stroll ever had the highs perez had early season this year for example and were it not for the title pressure getting to him\being unable to adapt to the new direction the car took; perez has always been a decent driver otherwise, including his other seasons at red bull, so I’m sure he’d be the one to beat stroll if they were team mates, just like he did in the past.

      1. @esploratore1 there have sometimes been some fairly vigorous debates on this site about how good Perez was over the course of his career, most often when it came to the driver rankings that were given by this site at the end of a season.

        If you go back and look at some of the comments being raised in the period from 2014 to 2016, when he was competing against Hulkenberg at Force India, there were some questioning whether Perez was perhaps given a bit too much credit for his performances at the time.

        Similarly, the 2018 rankings saw a fairly vigorous debate at the time over whether Perez’s performance against Ocon was that good and many who complained that Perez was overrated that year. It was pointed out that, over the balance of the season, Perez was the weaker driver – Ocon not only won the qualifying battle, but also tended to finish ahead of Perez more frequently in race trim too, with the complaint that Perez’s lucky podium in the famously chaotic race in Baku that year being the only reason why he finished ahead of Ocon.

        1. …but also tended to finish ahead of Perez more frequently in race trim too.

          Yeah, except race and qualifying trim are the same because of parc ferme rules. No changing the car after qualifying, except for some minor stuff.

          1. Though with a lot more fuel added at the start and the need to keep the tyres for your stint, the actual balance does change a bit and so does the way to drive, which is where we have seen clear differences between drivers of the same team in how well they manage that.

    2. Ops, forgot to finish that phrase, I meant were it not for being unable to adapt to the new direction the car took, perez could’ve been one of the best drivers this season.

      1. The RB was so fast and reliable this year that anyone driving it would have finished the year first or second. And they did.

        1. I know that there are many variables and I’m making a gross simplification, but if you remember Stroll scored 35,9% of Alonso’s points (74 vs 206), and apply that percentage to Verstappen’s total (575), Stroll would have scored 206,5 points in the second Red Bull, and finish third in the championship with behind Hamilton, or even as low as seventh behind Sainz (200 points), because the 79 points he would have scored less than Perez would have been taken by other drivers

    3. Perez might be bad.. but losing to Lance Stroll is another level altogether.

      1. Perez is not “bad” by any stretch of the imagination. I still fail to understand how people have convinced themselves of this.

        1. Agreed. I don’t get it either.

          Red Bull’s options are Ricciardo or Tsunoda or (possibly) Lawson.
          Perez still appears to be Red Bull’s best option.

          If he wasn’t good enough, he would have been out by now and joined Kvyat, Albon & Gasly – all decent drivers but none of them finished second in the championship table.
          Perez did just that – finish 2nd in the standings.

          Not without problems, admittedly, but in the end he got the P2 which I don’t think even Ricciardo did (correct me if I’m wrong).

  5. Wrong end of the pool, and he was never a greet swimmer.

  6. Fingers crossed. I really feel he needs to stop trying to drive the car like Verstappen does, it just isn’t working for him.

    I’m sure he’d be faster if he set the car up in a way that was conducive to his driving style, his results would improve, even if this means giving up trying to beat Verstappen at his own game.

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