Sergio Perez is targeting points rather than a podium after both Red Bull drivers fell at the Q2 stage in Singapore.
There was a great deal of intrigue surrounding Red Bull heading into qualifying, with the team that has won all 14 grands prix in F1 2023 so far not looking like a contender for pole position. Did they have performance to unleash when it really mattered?
As it turned out, no they did not, with Max Verstappen managing only P11 on the grid and Perez P13, Perez having spun on his final flying lap in Q2 as both Red Bull drivers were forced to watch Q3 from the sidelines.
Sergio Perez says nothing worked to “transform” RB19
Speaking to Sky F1 after qualifying, Perez said he felt he had a shot at making Q3 despite the balance issues with his RB19, until a “massive under-delivery from the engine” sent him into a spin and triggered a very disappointing end to his qualifying outing.
“It was quite difficult,” Perez summarised.
“We’ve been playing around with the car. It’s been a difficult weekend, we started really well with a nice balance in FP1, but then FP2 was very difficult.
“And since then, it’s been tough because we’ve been making a few changes here and there, but nothing seems to transform the balance.
“And then it just made it worse the fact that I couldn’t do my final attempt in Q2. I had a massive under-delivery from the engine and then it kicked really hard and I ended up losing the car. So it was a shame, it is a massive shame. I think Q3 was possible.”
Asked whether, starting from P13 on the grid, a top-three podium finish is now off the table, Perez replied: “Yeah, definitely. I think if we are able to score a few points, I will be pleased with that.”
Did Sergio Perez qualifying approach backfire in Singapore?
Ex-IndyCar racer Danica Patrick noted that Perez is a driver who generally likes to get his qualifying laps on the board earlier in a session, but with track evolution playing such an important role throughout Singapore qualifying, the best of the conditions were arriving at the very end of the sessions.
Patrick therefore suspects Perez was taken out of his comfort zone a little, also believing that the scramble for changes he mentioned to improve the RB19 can actually lead to added confusion.
“He has some different strategy,” said Patrick of Perez. “A lot of times he’ll go out early in qualifying and my goodness, you could see it here at Singapore so loudly, that it’s all about being out at the very end and that last lap and that’s just not necessarily what he usually goes for in qualifying.
“And on top of that, just him talking about how the weekend has gone, a lot of times when things aren’t going well, you start throwing the kitchen sink at it and it gets even more confusing.”
Red Bull have a huge mountain to climb then if they are to preserve their unbeaten run in F1 2023, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz set to start from pole for the second time in as many races, with Mercedes’ George Russell for company on the front row.
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