Perez urged to relax with points pressure eased
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 7th June, 2023 - 7:37am
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Sergio Perez placing too much pressure on himself in trying to reach Max Verstappen’s level has been the cause of his recent malaise.
Following his stellar weekend in Azerbaijan where he won both sprint and grand prix, it appeared as if Perez was poised to challenge Verstappen for this year’s drivers’ title as he closed the gap to six points on the Dutchman.
Since then, however, Verstappen has been unstoppable as he has reeled off three consecutive victories, and in tandem with Perez’s poor weekends in Monaco and Barcelona, a 53-point chasm has been established.
After qualifying a poor 11th for the Spanish Grand Prix, Perez hinted in Red Bull’s post-session press release as to the potential cause by stating he was “trying to modify my driving style quite a bit this weekend”.
It would appear the Verstappen factor has again eaten away at a team-mate’s confidence in his own ability, leaving the 25-year-old on course for a third successive drivers’ championship.
Behind a dominant race victory from Verstappen, Horner at least hailed Perez’s fourth place on Sunday as “a very good recovery” that “will give him a lot of confidence”.
Whilst it would appear the damage has now been done, however, Horner is hopeful Perez can rediscover his early-season form now he is no longer neck and neck with Verstappen for the title
“He had a difficult Monaco, a difficult Saturday (in Barcelona), a stronger Sunday,” assessed Horner.
“Looking at the gap now between the two drivers, which is pretty significant, in many respects it will take pressure off his (Perez’s) shoulders.
“That’ll allow him to now relax, not put pressure on himself, and re-find the form that he had in those early races.”
Suggested to Horner that Perez had pushed too hard to attain Verstappen’s consistently high level, Horner replied: “I think so.
“We know what Checo is capable of. We’ve seen it in races like Azerbaijan and Saudi already this year, and I’m sure he’ll re-find that form in the near future.”
(article continues below video)
Perez seeking to analyse form dip
Despite Perez’s drive to fourth at the Circuit de Catalunya, the Mexican finished behind third-placed George Russell, even though the Mercedes driver started a place behind him on the grid.
Perez felt, however, that joining Verstappen on the podium was asking too much.
“We had to be quite patient, especially on that first lap, not taking any unnecessary risks, which for us was important,” said Perez.
“From then on it was about being patient, trying to go long, and then the race was later on. Unfortunately, we just finished a bit further behind than George.
“They (Mercedes) were quite strong. They had quite good race pace so it (a podium) did feel far.
“I thought at the time I wasn’t fighting with George, it was more Carlos (Sainz). Fairly early on I could see that George was really strong.”
Perez is now eager to understand why his form has again dipped.
“If we wanted to finish higher, we needed a much better qualifying, so I’m looking forward to Montreal (Canadian GP on June 16-18).
“After this one (Spanish) we need to analyse and make sure we understand what happened, and that we come strong.”