Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2024

Verstappen “absolutely” wasn’t going to win even if he hadn’t retired – Perez

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Sergio Perez is convinced Ferrari would have won the Australian Grand Prix even if Max Verstappen hadn’t retired.

Verstappen led the field at the start but was out within three laps as his left-rear brake stuck on and overheated. Perez, who finished fifth behind the Ferrari and McLaren drivers, is convinced Red Bull didn’t have the pace to outrun winner Carlos Sainz Jnr.

“As a team we just didn’t have the pace today,” he told Sky. “We didn’t have the pace throughout the weekend.

“We were struggling already from Friday and we never got on top of the management of tyres. I think we just have to understand and make sure we are able to improve.

“We already saw last year in a track like this, for example Vegas a front-limited track, Ferrari was a lot stronger than us. So we just couldn’t look after the front tyres.”

Asked whether Ferrari would have won even if Verstappen hadn’t retired, Perez said: “Absolutely, yes.”

Although Perez out-qualified all bar one of the team’s rival cars, before a penalty dropped him to sixth on the grid, he believes Red Bull’s race pace was not as strong as its closest rivals’.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“We didn’t have the pace, unfortunately,” he said. “I think we struggled early on.

“We could see that Ferrari and McLaren were a step ahead of us. I think we just couldn’t get the balance in the window. There’s some work to do for the coming races. It was a very unique Tarmac and just throughout the weekend we were not able to manage the best possible grip level.”

After the race Red Bull team principal Christian Horner apologised to Perez on the radio: “Not our finest race, Checo,” he said. “Sorry about that. Plenty of lessons out of today.”

However speaking afterwards Horner revealed the sole RB20 to reach the chequered flag was affected by damage.

“He’s probably not aware of it, but he picked up a bit of damage whilst he was passing Fernando [Alonso],” said Horner. “He lost a significant amount of downforce from the floor of the car. So we just need to get the car back to understand exactly what’s caused that. As soon as you get that, then your tyre deg gets worse.”

However Horner concede “we were just not good at the end of the stints, which has been an unusual trait for our cars, so we need to understand that.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2024 Australian Grand Prix

Browse all 2024 Australian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

31 comments on “Verstappen “absolutely” wasn’t going to win even if he hadn’t retired – Perez”

  1. I’m pretty sure he would’ve win if he had an entirely issue-free race.
    Easy for Checo to say as the generally slower one.

    1. would’ve ‘won’

    2. Yeah, it’s hard to imagine Max not being right there without an issue. The race would have unfolded very differently, Carlos wouldn’t have been able to create a gap and manage behind and plenty of teams calls would have been different even if Max was slow. He’d still have been leading from the start and Ferrari and McLaren would still have had to work hard to change that.

    3. Well, probably but Carlos was very strong today. He had the pace for pole, lost it because he left a pair of tenths in T10. At least he might have battled till the end. Too bad we lost the chance of an exciting tug-of-war.

      1. notagrumpyfan
        24th March 2024, 12:13

        But being stuck in the dirty air behind Verstappen would not have been easy for Sainz. Especially if Norris would have been able to stick close to Sainz.
        This race with Verstappen would probably have been won on strategy. But with RBR generally stronger on strategy and both Ferrari’s fighting with the McLaren’s I guess it would still have been Verstappen’s win in the end.

        Thus the biggest winner this race is probably Perez for not being compared to Verstappen in the same car ;)

        PS Sainz to RBR next year?

    4. I agree this is a nonsense remark from Checo. Easy to see through his motivation here. Shouldn’t be in that car.

    5. Ferrari had pace and were very strong. Even if Max had not retired, would have not won the race. RB didn’t have it in the race.

  2. Maybe Perez is right. On long run simulation Ferrari were better all the weekend.

    1. Never discount what Max could do from the front. His defense is usually on the limit when feeling a bit slower, so I’m not sure if a slight pace advantage for Ferrari would’ve been enough. Also, a win would have been very dependent on strategy, an area where the Scuderia never shined in the last couple of years.

  3. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    24th March 2024, 10:05

    Could it have been close, possibly, but I’d still wager Max would have won. Even with a stuck/rubbing rear he was keeping up with the faster Ferrari.

    1. Yes, a damn shame we lost verstappen early, if there was a race that would’ve been competitive, from what we saw early on, it’s this one, and after all perez was also nowhere compared to his usual, even before the damage.

  4. Perez should have won this race and he should be leading the WDC. Started 6th and finished 5th is really poor. Blew is only chance of leading the WDC for once in his life.

    1. And that is why he is saying what he’s saying. I have no idea why Horner insists on Perez as second driver.

      1. They can’t exactly get ricciardo, can they? Tsunoda? They’d have to hire from outside, which I would do, not sure about them.

        1. Tommy Scragend
          24th March 2024, 23:21

          I believe there’s a Spanish driver available next year.

  5. Sure, Checo. Not a Max fan, but no way is Max not all over Sainz at the very least. And there’s zero chance Max ends up 25+ seconds from the lead if he starts in 6th.

  6. But Max isn’t Checo.

  7. hard to tell if hes Checked-out or Check’s-in-the-mail. There is a chance Ferrari have Red Bull over a race, given, like the Mercedes before it, it is designed to run in the front of the pack, and if Ferrari can disrupt this rhythm, it could be so foreign to their data analysis and design it could actually cause Red Bull to lose in a more profound way.

    I suspect Checo needs to show more initiative though, it just seems like hes digging for excuses and trying to play safe, which will not protect him from guys like Alonso or Sainz taking his seat.

    1. @pcxmac


      Cheque’s-in-the-mail (FTFY) :P

  8. Perez forget Max is light years ahead when it comes to speed, pace and race management.

    Ferrari did look much better than the rest without him there, but i believe he would still pull it off even after losing position to Sainz. All those DRS zones would aid him too.

  9. Checo is beginning to slide and make up excuses already. Last year at least he made it til Miami

  10. Have to disagree. Max would have won the race without the issue. Could it have been close with Sainz? Perhaps for a stint or so.

  11. Ferrari had pace and were very strong. Even if Max had not retired, would have not won the race. RB didn’t have it in the race.

  12. Yes, like the other comments said, obviously verstappen would’ve been much faster than perez, enough to compete with sainz. I can’t say who would’ve won but possibly this was a chance to beat verstappen’s red bull on pace, lost it due to reliability.

    1. It’s also not the first time that a driver of the calibre of verstappen\hamilton wins and a driver like perez\bottas fights for 5th or thereabouts.

  13. I feel like Carlos had more pace in hand at certain points of the race, of course Ferrari calling off the fight made it even easier for him to control the race. Checo didn’t have the pace to fight Ferrari’s and we all think Max would have probably been close to them still, but who knows.. Maybe there will be a handful of tracks that Ferrari can actually compete on this year.

  14. I think that Ferrari have truly a really good pace on the long run at Melbourne. Maybe Checo is right all the weekend the Scuderia had the upper hand on the long run, when you look at the tire degradation on the Red Bull during the week end it was not great it seems they have not been able to fine tune their setup.

  15. Checo lasted two races this year.

    1. His qualifying was sufficient, the penalty plus his car damage passing Alonso (whatever that was) hurt his race and made things look worse than it is. It’s not quite missing out on Q3 level of bad yet.

  16. The car/setup wasn’t there. I doubt Max could have won it easily from the Ferrari pair, most teams struggled with the tyre management, that tarmac was harsh, also looking thru Checo’s race when pushing was fast but killed early his tyres, when saving speed went to the drain, without having to save tyres he would have been able to chase Piastri at least. Maccas were quick and made it to the flag on shape but they were using a lot more curbs and track width than others.

  17. We need Carlos in that 2nd Redbull.

Comments are closed.