In his debut with a new team, it was a baptism of fire for Sergio Perez, as he made his grand entry for Red Bull at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Mexican however did not have it easy, despite his team looking to have the upper hand over their rivals Mercedes. An error in qualifying, coupled with a systems’ issue during the formation lap led him to start the race from the pitlane. He then produced a recovery drive, as commanding as the one that gave him the win at the same track during the 2020 season.
Perez has in Max Verstappen, a formidable teammate, but the Dutchman is equally, a benchmark that he doesn't want to stray too far from. He stressed in that instance that he had no intention of diverging too far from his younger but experienced teammate’s approach, asserting it would be “very silly” to get lost in that way.
When asked where the big areas of improvement were, Perez said: “In general, it’s understanding how the car works and to have that confidence with the car.”
“I made huge steps in Bahrain in understanding the car.”
“It will be very silly to get lost and start chasing one direction that doesn’t make the car go faster. We have a pretty good reference in Max, the way he’s driving the car and which issues he’s chasing.”
“So I think that’s a key area, try not to go too far apart. He has a pretty good baseline in terms of how to extract the maximum out of the car, so we need to be in that operating area as much as possible.”
When reflecting on the impact of getting knocked out of Q2 and also on the turning off of the car in the formation lap, Perez stated: “Missing out in Q2 wasn’t ideal because every kilometre I do with a car and I definitely find progress”
“It was important to do the race, we were close to missing it with the car turning off and we had to start the race from the pitlane. It was important to get those kilometres and we’re making good progress.”
For the Guadalajara native, however, those mishaps were the occasion to learn and improve, as the team is approaching the challenges brought by an Imola circuit very different from the one of Bahrain.
“We had the time to analyse and go through the data and we can already see a lot of areas that we can improve on and look forward to Imola. It’s going to be a very different circuit as well, so that will only help to understand the car better.”
“We could have diverted the strategy at the end of run one [in Q2] but I was pretty confident because I lost three tenths just in one corner by making a mistake.”
“We had a little issue there in the brakes that we only found later and now we understand what went wrong. Without that issue, we definitely should have been through.”
In the end, for Perez, getting maximum results will only come by taking some risks.
“It was the right thing to do. To exploit the maximum results, you have to be on the best possible strategy. And if that means taking some risks, we had to take them.”