Silverstone, UK – Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko has expressed disappointment with Sergio Perez’s ongoing struggles in qualifying after the Mexican driver failed to secure a top-ten qualifying position for the fifth consecutive race. Perez’s difficulties continued during the British Grand Prix qualifying session, resulting in a 16th place starting position.
Tyre temperature issues on a drying track plagued Perez’s qualifying session, compounded by spending nearly 10 minutes at the pit exit under red flag conditions. The latest setback adds to a string of failures for Perez, diminishing any hopes of challenging his Red Bull teammate, Max Verstappen, for the F1 Drivers’ Championship.
Perez needs to ‘get a grip’
Marko, not mincing his words, called for Perez to “get a grip” on his qualifying performance, highlighting this as an ongoing weakness. Although acknowledging Perez’s ability to perform well in races, Marko emphasized the necessity for the driver to address his recurring qualifying struggles, underlining the importance of qualifying consistency for the team.
“Perez needs to get a grip on his qualifications,” Marko told Sky Sport.
“Usually, he drives good races, but he’s now lucky again: you can easily catch up here.
“It has always been a weakness of his. It just happens too often and he has to work on that. We’re also going to work on it, because if one driver is in front and the other 16th, something isn’t right.”
How have we only just seen the helicam footage from this epic passage of racing at Silverstone last year 🤯 pic.twitter.com/uP43lfLabF
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) July 7, 2023
Reflecting on the challenging qualifying conditions at the British Grand Prix, Marko revealed that Red Bull faced uncertainty as they contended with changing track conditions.
“It was tough conditions and it was decisions that had to be made in seconds: at what point do you go out on track? It was difficult for Max as well and in those moments when we thought we had enough, it turned out not to be the case,” he admits.
McLaren posed a threat to Red Bull’s pole position aspirations, prompting the team to deliberate whether to send Verstappen out for another run in Q3. Eventually, they opted for a fresh set of soft tyres for Verstappen’s final attempt.
Marko admitted the difficulty of making split-second decisions in such circumstances, particularly when gauging the optimal time to hit the track. He revealed that the team believed they had sufficient time during certain moments, only to find out later that their assumptions fell short.
Despite the challenges, Red Bull managed a second run for Verstappen, acknowledging the delicate balance of bringing tyres up to temperature while pushing the limits without taking excessive risks.
“It was the same in Q3 and we thought the first run would be enough for pole. Luckily we did a second run, but in these constantly changing conditions it was not easy to get the tyres up to temperature.
“You don’t want to take too much risk, but you still want to push the limit. It was a tricky challenge.”
Perez replaced mid-season?
Responding to questions about the possibility of replacing Perez, Marko ruled out any immediate changes. He noted Perez’s current position in the standings, stating that he is racing well and differs significantly from Nyck de Vries, but acknowledged the need for improvement.
“He is second in the standings and delivers good races, which distinguishes him from Nyck de Vries,” admits Marko,
“At the moment there is no need to take action. There is also no one available to replace him.”
With the focus now on the British Grand Prix, Perez faces a crucial opportunity to prove his capabilities and address the ongoing concerns surrounding his qualifying performance.
For now, the Red Bull team remains determined to support Perez in improving his consistency, at least officially, recognizing the importance of a united front in their pursuit of both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships.