Drivers under pressure going into the Formula One race weekend in Austrian include Alpha Taurus Nyck de Vries together with Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez.
De Vries is joint last with Williams Logan Sargeant in the drivers’ championship, both having failed to score a point yet this season. De Vries poor qualifying on Friday meant he was doomed to start the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix at the ack of the grid.
Perez F1 quali nightmare continues
With just one practice session on Friday during a Sprint weekend, Perez was less than impressive during that first session. He finished in fifth behind the two Ferrari cars and Lewis Hamilton over half a second off the pace of his team mate.
Then in qualifying, Perez struggled more than most to keep his car within track limits. Despite making three quick runs during the second qualifying session, each was deleted by race control leaving the Red Bull driver starting the Grad Prix in fifteenth.
This was the fourth consecutive F1 weekend Perez failed to make the top ten shootout adding further pressure to the already under fire Mexican driver.
To put this into perspective, despite driving the most dominant car seen in F1 for some years, Nico Hulkenberg in a Haas has made more pole position shootout’s than Sergio Perez.
Verstappen takes swipe at Checo
Helmut Marko implied in the run up to the weekend in the Styrian Hills, that Perez’s three seasons with Red Bull was probably more than he’d expected to be allowed.
Verstappen took a swipe at his team mates poor performance last time out in Canada. When asked about his win he replied, “Well, if I wasn’t here today, obviously it would have been very different for the team. That’s one way of looking at it.”
Sergio Perez did raise his game in Austria irritatingly for him qualifying second on Saturday morning for that afternoon’s one third distance Sprint race.
Having made the better start, Perez took the lead at the first corner only to almost run his team mate off the track at the kink they call turn 2.
Marko slams Perez ”slower everywhere’
Yet Verstappen was not to be denied; taking the inside line into turn 3 he ran Checo out of road and took the lead and set about disappearing down the road.
Over twenty four laps at the Red Bull Ring for the Sprint, Perez found himself finishing 21.048 seconds behind Verstappen and just over 2 seconds ahead of third place Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Helmut Marko again expressed his disapproval of the Red Bull number two driver observing that in “every single corner” Verstappen was quicker.
The Red Bull consultant though was surprised about the gap between the two drivers given the team merely fine tuned setup rather than making big changes this weekend.
Max/Checo gap due to driver not car
“Well, we’ve gradually fine-tuned our car here,” Marko he told Sky Germany. “So, for Max to be half a second ahead right away is quite surprising.
Verstappen had one lap time deleted in qualifying but Marko believes this won’t dent his confidence for the race.
“Yes, it was unfortunate, but that happens. And I hope for his confidence that starting on the front row will be a great motivation once again.”
“There are a few corners where there’s a bit more to gain, but overall, it’s practically every single corner where Max is faster,” concludes the Red Bull advisor.
Perez denies driving Max off road
During the Sprint race Perez caused some controversy with Verstappen having run him onto the grass lap one through the kink of turn two.
Perez claimed he didn’t see his team make, however analysis from Sky’s Anthony Davidson demonstrate the Mexican driver looked in his mirror where Verstappen was and then moved to close down the on track gap.
“He’s clearly looking (in his mirror),” said Davidson on Sky F1 with the help of side by side vie analysis.
“He then moves (across in front of Max) after looking in the mirror.
Sky analysis: Perez guilty
“He (Perez) came out afterwards claiming ‘I didn’t see him. I didn’t know where he was.’
“He DID. He looked in the mirror and then moved afterwards he then squeezes his team mate onto the grass and I can see why Max had a few issues with that,” concluded Davidson.
There have been a number of flash points between the two Red Bull drivers, particularly at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2022. Ahead of Verstappen with one qualifying run remaining, Perez had a suspicious ‘crash’ which denied Max a final attempt to deliver an improved time.
When Verstappen discoveries his team mate again lied and did run indeed him off the track during the Austrian Sprint, the candid Dutch world champion may well add to the Mexican’s woes with new revelations in the media.
A closer look at the lap one battle between Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in the Sprint 🔍 pic.twitter.com/s6aGMKSmgh
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) July 2, 2023