Sergio Pérez endured a tough weekend in Qatar, with a retirement from the sprint race on Saturday being followed by a tenth place finish – and three penalties for exceeding track limits – on Sunday.
The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver was looking to recover from a poor grid slot on Saturday and was making gains until he collided with both Esteban Ocon and Nico Hülkenberg around mid-distance, meaning his race ended up in the gravel with a lot of damage to his RB19.
Pérez required a new chassis to be built for him overnight, and he started the race from the pit lane as a result. He opted to start on the hard tyres which he felt, with hindsight, was the wrong call, particularly with the restriction implemented by Pirelli on the stint lengths around the Lusail International Circuit.
“It was a difficult afternoon, starting on the hard tyre really complicated things for us, especially with the early Safety Car,” said Pérez. “It meant we couldn’t warm up the tyres and then we ended up losing positions and couldn’t make progress quickly enough, and as much as we should have.
“By the time I got the temperature in the tyres we had to pit, due to the mandatory pit stops. We lost our car yesterday due to the incident in the Sprint and we had a completely new car for today. It was therefore very difficult to draw conclusions with the car we had, we had to revert on the specifications.”
Pérez admitted to struggling with the track limits in Qatar, perhaps due to sitting too low in the car, but he knows he had to do a better job than he did after taking fifteen seconds worth of penalties.
“I really suffered with the new track limits, they were brought in very last minute, which I don’t think is right but it is the same for everyone and I should have done a better job,” said the Mexican.
“It was hard for me to judge them inside the car because I think, a little like in Austria, I am sitting a bit too low and that made things harder, I should have maybe altered that when the changes were implemented.
“Overall, we have plenty to look at and I will be in the factory this week working hard with my Team.”
“Checo just needs to get that form back that he had at the beginning of the season” – Christian Horner
Team Principal Christian Horner admitted it was a tough weekend for Pérez, and he says it is important for the Mexican to find the form he showed at the start of the season if he is to hold on to second place in the Drivers’ Championship.
Pérez won two of the opening four races of the current season but has not won again since, while team-mate Max Verstappen now has fourteen wins and a third consecutive championship to his name.
Horner says he should have scored more than the one point in Qatar but for the multiple track limit offences, although he was able to gain a point over his closest rival Lewis Hamilton on Sunday after the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver retired on lap one.
“For Checo it was another tough race,” said Horner. “The fifteen seconds of penalties really impacted his overall performance and meant a missed opportunity to capitalise on points with Lewis out of the race.
“Checo just needs to get that form back that he had at the beginning of the season and we know he can do it. He knows he can do it. He has our full support.
“We head West now and to the Americas where Checo drives well so we look forward to some stronger performances in the quest for second place.”