Pérez uses grid penalty as an excuse and contradicts Verstappen: ‘That already says something’

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Pérez uses grid penalty as an excuse and contradicts Verstappen: 'That already says something'

Red Bull Racing started the season almost perfectly: after two race weekends, the constructors’ champion had already collected 87 of the maximum available 88 points, just like in 2023. However, things went wrong in the third weekend: Max Verstappen quickly dropped out with problems, and Sergio Pérez could not threaten the podium customers.

Before the late Virtual Safety Car, Pérez was already facing a deficit of more than 35 seconds. Due to the finish under neutralized conditions, the difference with race winner Carlos Sainz eventually increased to just under a minute. Especially at the start of the race, Pérez lacked a lot of speed. After fourteen laps the gap had already increased to fourteen seconds, so one second per lap.

Frustrating race

Pérez posted the third fastest time on Saturday, but was dropped to P6 due to Nico Hülkenberg’s withdrawal. The 34-year-old driver himself felt that this meant he could never really fight at the front. “In the first stint we were basically stuck behind George Russell,” the Red Bull Racing driver tells Motorsport.com. The Brit stayed behind Pérez at the start, but outsmarted him later in the opening lap. “It was very damaging to the race that we lost that position.”

Thanks to his fifth place, Pérez closed the gap on Verstappen in the championship, but Charles Leclerc took over second place. ‘It was just a very bad weekend. We never got into the window with the car to be able to handle the tires well during the stints. The balance was always missing, so we have a lot of things that we will have to understand,” says Pérez.

Opportunities Verstappen

At Sky Sports F1, Pérez was asked about Verstappen’s chances without any problems. The Dutchman quickly fell back, and so it was difficult to say whether a victory would have been feasible for the Dutchman. ‘You saw that Max was already overtaken within two laps. That says something,” says Pérez, who seems to indicate that Verstappen also had no chance of winning, while Verstappen himself afterwards indicated to team advisor Helmut Marko that he did think he could have won. When Pérez is asked whether Carlos Sainz would have also won without any problems with Verstappen, Pérez is clear. “Absolutely, yes.”

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