Sergio Perez considers himself to be a Formula One street circuit specialist and after his poor showing in Australia the Mexican believes he can beat his team mate around the city of Baku. Sergio has been roundly criticised in the aftermath of the Melbourne race and needs to step up in Azerbaijan if he’s to reignite the battle with his team mate.
Having repeatedly struggled with braking during practice three down under, Perez binned his Red Bull car on the opening lap of qualifying and started the race plumb last.
Perez blamed car for Aussie crash
Perez blamed something on the car for his repeated offs during practice and again in qualifying. “It was really bad, very bad weekend,” he said after the chequered flag. “What happened on Saturday, it’s totally unacceptable.
Team boss Christian Horner refuted his drivers allegations about the car causing his problem in qualifying when he revealed, “I think we had a bit of the engine running on in P[ractice] 3, but the levels that we saw in qualifying were nothing abnormal.”
Team manager and long standing F1 journalist Peter Windsor was scathing over Perez attitude both after winning the race in Jeddah and his debacle in Melbourne.
Sergio heavily criticised
“I’m absolutely shocked [by] Checo’s reaction to what happened in Saudi Arabia, where he won the grand prix.
“I’m absolutely shocked that after that race he started saying, ‘I’m in the running for the World Championship, I need to get the same treatment as Max’.
“I’m still even more shocked that he’s thrashing out at the team now because of what happened in qualifying, and indeed in FP3, in Melbourne – dry track, no problem at all with the car actually.”
Yet undeterred by public criticism, Sergio has arrived in Baku and put his Red Bull team on notice to be “on it” ahead of there weekend in Baku.
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New weekend format intracicies
“We had a great team result in Baku last season and everyone knows I really enjoy a street circuit – winning is always the aim,” said Perez, who finished second to team-mate Max Verstappen 12 months ago.
“The new weekend format is going to make things tricky when it comes to car set-up but every team is in the same position and we just have to make sure we are on it from the minute we roll out on Friday.”
The new weekend format has a number of intricacies for the teams, some of which they only learned of today.
The Sprint shootout on Saturday morning will set the grid for the 30. Minute afternoon race. The qualifying sessions have been truncated and the drivers must use a set of mediums for Q1 and Q2 and a set of soft tyres for Q3.
Long run simulations gone from Perez preparation
This will probably mean the drivers will run multiple qualifying laps during each session rather than the traditional single flying lap they will continue to deliver for Grand Prix qualifying on Friday afternoon.
Of course with just one practice session on Friday morning, the teams will find it impossible to condense the usual learning they do over the regular weekend with three hours of practice.
This will probably see the long run simulations abandoned which for Perez is often crucial to optimise his race strategy.
So it is the Mexican who will also need to be “on it” as the usual rhythm of the garages is thrown into the unknown.
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Red Bull need to be “consistent”
Perez is aware it was his failing in Australia that cost the team the perfect start to the season of three races with 1-2 finishes, but the Red Bull driver believes it was merely a hiccup.
“It feels like ages since we have been racing! It has been nice to have a break, to work hard in the gym and with my team at the factory,” Perez revealed.
“You must take advantage of these moments away from the track, especially when you see how busy the period is coming up.
“Australia wasn’t perfect for us, having the car and performance consistent is my aim this season.
“For two races we had that and now as a team, we must make sure that’s the standard we keep to for the remaining races of the season.
Red Bull street circuit rumble ahead
“We have five races in six weeks and after that, with the mix of circuits we are visiting, we are really going to see how good the RB19 can be this year.”
With two street circuit races this weekend, the potential for attrition amongst the teams is significantly chigger than usual.
Further, if the RB19 is still way ahead of the pack, it may be Red Bull have some interesting adjudications to make between their drivers – particularly if their Mexican number 2 decides to up his game and take it to Max.
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Red Bull's 2018 Baku outing ended in disaster #AzerbaijanGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/esU6ZtVBi5
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 25, 2023