‘Reckless’ Perez admits serious ‘Weakness’

“He’s driving me off the track recklessly,” Carlos Sainz communicated over the radio during the closing stages of the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg. He was referring to Sergio Perez, the Red Bull driver with whom Sainz engaged in a battle for the final podium position over several laps.

Sainz reiterated his demand for the race stewards to investigate the situation, but they chose not to intervene. After the race, Sainz explained his remarks, saying, “He made some peculiar maneuvers. I felt that when we were side by side, he deliberately moved his car towards mine, which honestly caught me off guard. Overall, it was a good fight and an exciting duel.”



Perez “we simply had a fair fight”

Sainz emphasised his confusion over such maneuvers, deeming them unnecessary. Ultimately, Perez came out ahead and secured third place and a spot on the podium. Perez, however, didn’t understand the fuss surrounding their battle.

“I haven’t spoken to Carlos yet, so I’m not sure what he means,” Perez wondered, adding that the duel was not particularly aggressive. “We simply had a fair fight. They were particularly strong coming out of turn 3,” he states.



Perez’s return to the podium

“It took me a bit longer to overtake. I was on the inside of turn 4 when suddenly there was a Haas car on the inside, causing me to back off. It took more time than I would have liked, but we eventually made it,” Perez stated.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also noted, “The drivers were engaged in some gamesmanship, and they both drove aggressively. It was entertaining, fun, and competitive racing to watch.”

Horner clarified that the battle was not unfair. For Perez, it marked another podium finish after his second-place result in the sprint race. “We knew he was capable of it,” Horner explained, highlighting that Perez hadn’t been on the podium since the Miami race in early May.

“Race analysis shows that Perez had a strong pace, and he redeemed himself with an impressive performance. However, he shouldn’t have had to work as hard,” Horner commented, referring to Perez’s 15th-place qualification.

Horner further remarked, “Sometimes I think he puts too much pressure on himself.”

He acknowledged that Perez performed well on Saturday and Sunday, though Friday’s poor qualifying result was frustrating.



VSC incident costs Sainz positions

The virtual safety car (VSC) during the early stages of the race helped Perez recover. “Our strategists informed us that tire wear was low, and Perez would gain a significant advantage by not pitting during the VSC,” Horner explained.

“If there had been a safety car, we would have made a pit stop,” Horner added. Instead, they utilized the pit stops of other drivers during the VSC period to get Perez out of traffic and into a leading position.

“It worked out very well for us,” Horner expressed his satisfaction. Before the VSC, Perez was in ninth place, but he moved up to the top three afterwards.

“We were surprised to see many cars pitting during the VSC because it was quite early for a two-stop strategy. So we were taken aback when both Ferraris pitted,” Horner stated.


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Although Perez lost a few positions after his own pit stop, the advantage of having fresher tires allowed him to secure a spot on the podium. On the other hand, the VSC incident worked against Sainz, who was directly behind his teammate before the VSC phase.

Both Ferrari drivers pitted simultaneously, but the pit stops were suboptimal, each taking over four seconds. As a result, Sainz lost two positions to Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, as well as the gap to Charles Leclerc.


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Sainz: Missed podium opportunity

“I’m genuinely pleased with my performance,” Sainz said, emphasizing that he executed good maneuvers and defended himself well throughout the race.

“I managed my tires effectively while also maintaining an attacking mindset,” the Spaniard added.

However, he felt frustrated after the race because he believed a better result than fourth place was within reach. To make matters worse, Sainz received a penalty for exceeding track limits, which pushed him down to sixth place in the final standings.

Despite the setback, Sainz considered it one of his best weekends of the year. “Personally, I feel I’m in a good phase with my driving. That’s why I’m frustrated that I’m not maximizing my points,” he lamented.

“In some races, I’ve had a lot of pace in the car,” Sainz pointed out, explaining, “I feel like I’ve made significant progress.” He expressed disappointment that the results didn’t reflect his improved performance.

He believed that a podium finish, either in second or third place, was possible in Spielberg, considering his strong pace throughout the weekend. “I’ve been very competitive this year, especially during races,” Sainz emphasized. Therefore, finishing sixth in the race was particularly disheartening for him.


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“Weakness” admits Perez

Sergio Perez’s streak without a podium came to an end in Spielberg. Despite starting from 15th place and admitting to feeling physically weak, the Mexican driver secured third place and stood on the podium once again, ending a period of disappointing results.

“It was a challenging weekend for me, especially from a physical standpoint,” Perez revealed. He had skipped the media day on Thursday due to illness but returned to the car on Friday, albeit not at full strength.

“I didn’t recover well during the nights. I had a fever, and when you take medication, you’re not at 100 percent,” Perez explained, highlighting his seriously weakened condition.

The exact nature of Perez’s illness is unknown, but with the demanding schedule of four races in June, Formula 1 teams face a tight turnaround. The next race at Silverstone is only five days away. “I hope to recover in the coming days because Silverstone will be another tough and demanding race,” Perez expressed his concern.

Given his current condition, Perez was thrilled to stand on the podium again after a challenging period, especially at Red Bull’s home race in Austria. “We had to fight our way forward. We had great pace and engaging battles,” Perez said.


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A satisfying result for Perez

“In the end, it’s a good result, especially considering I wasn’t at 100 percent physically. But with the adrenaline pumping, you forget everything else,” Perez commented.

When asked if he felt back on form with this result, Perez responded, “Yes, certainly without the issues on Friday. We had good pace right from the start, and we were able to address the problems we faced in previous races. I believe we are back on track.”


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Praise from Marko

Helmut Marko also praised Perez’s performance on Sunday, acknowledging his excellent drive. “He displayed great awareness and made a strong recovery,” Marko told Sky.

“I think his confidence is back, and he has extended his lead over Alonso for second place. So, we approach the next races with confidence.”

Team principal Christian Horner echoed the positive sentiment after the Spielberg race. “Looking at his pace, particularly when he had a clear track, it was very good,” Horner commented.

“When you start from 15th position, you lose a lot of time in traffic, making it challenging to catch up with the leaders. That prevented him from having a chance to win today.”

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