“The summer slump isn’t here yet, but he seems to have fallen into it.” This is how Red Bull sports director Helmut Marko rates the current appearance of Sergio Pérez in Formula 1 on “Sky”.
Because for his taste, the Mexican is “currently too far from Max [Verstappen] away.” And it was no different in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Because while Verstappen easily made it into Q3 with the Red Bull RB18, Pérez in the sister car failed in the second segment of qualifying. Not only through his own fault, however: First he was denied a lap time due to a track limit violation in turn 5, and was given it back a little later. But that didn’t help: Pérez was eliminated in eleventh place.
He himself speaks of a “chaotic” qualifying session in which a lot went wrong for him. “In the end I missed Q3 by a few hundredths, but only because I was on Kevin before Turn 2 [Magnussen] am running up. That cost me a few tenths,” says Pérez. And 0.071 seconds decided whether to progress or be eliminated.
Sergio Pérez criticizes track limit monitoring
Pérez also partly blames the sports commissioners for this, who in the meantime had canceled his 1:18.516 minutes. That’s why Pérez made a devastating verdict on the approach to monitoring the track limits: “I don’t think the system can do it. We have to look at that and think about how we can do it better so that there is more consistency.”
The latter is now also demanding Marko, but from Pérez. Because for the taste of the Red Bull sports director, the distance between the two drivers in his team is too often too large. “We have to sit down together,” says Marko.
In fact, Pérez had started the 2022 season almost on an equal footing with Verstappen, was up to the eighth race in Baku three times ahead of his teammate in qualifying and usually only up to three and a half tenths of a second behind. Since Montreal, however, Pérez has only really been close to Verstappen in Le Castellet, missing more than 0.5 seconds in the other qualifications.
No more set-up experiments for Sergio Pérez
That puts Pérez in a “difficult situation” for the Grands Prix on Sunday, says Marko. Also since Montreal, the Mexican has started outside the top 10 in three out of five cases, so he was forced to catch up and Verstappen was no help in the fight against Ferrari.
For these reasons, Marko wants to ban or at least limit future set-up experiments. Pérez should “stick to Max’s car again in the vote,” he says.
The expectation of Pérez is that he “must be there from the first training session”. Because “if you’re gone for a second in the first training session, you won’t make up for it” on a weekend, says Marko.
But something similar happened in “certain races” last year, explains the Red Bull sports director. He is therefore confident that he can turn the tide with Pérez. Because: “We got rid of it last year, so we have to see that it settles down a bit.”