Sergio Perez crashes out in Q1 and will start in last place for Australian Grand Prix; Red Bull to investigate with Mexican also spinning three times in P3 – watch the Australian Grand Prix live on Sunday at 6am on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 4.30am
Last Updated: 01/04/23 9:36am
Sergio Perez lamented a “terrible day” as he prepares to start dead last at the Australian Grand Prix after crashing out in Q1, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner confirming reliability checks would be carried out.
Perez – the winner of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah two weeks ago – also went off the track three times in final practice earlier on Saturday at Albert Park.
The Mexican’s Red Bull team-mate, Max Verstappen, qualified in pole position in Melbourne, ahead of Mercedes pair George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, but even he noted downshift issues.
Perez said: “It was really bad, a terrible day. We had this issue in P3. We thought we had fixed it but obviously we didn’t so I really hope we are able to fix it come the race or it will be very difficult to race like this.
“I don’t want to go too much into detail, I don’t think it is worth it for us. We have to work together as a team to overcome this problem.”
Horner told Sky Sports F1: “[Perez] has had a horrible day. It started this morning with the car late off the weighbridge.
“He never really recovered from P3 and then the [Q1] lap, which was never going to be a consequential lap, he unfortunately locked up and went off. You saw him grab the brakes a couple of times, lock up and run deep.
“We are just checking all the data to see if there is something in the engine management that has maybe contributed to that and trying to ensure that if there is something it is not there [during the race].
“Confidence is so crucial and to this point he has looked very strong. It was just a horrible session.”
What can Perez achieve in Sunday’s race?
Verstappen finished second in Jeddah a fortnight ago after starting the race in 15th place following a driveshaft issue in Qualifying.
When asked about the potential of Perez to surge through the field in Australia, Horner said: “This is a much harder track to overtake than Jeddah but there are three DRS zones and we have got a good race car.
“It will be a case of staying out of trouble, making progress and picking the right strategy.
“Checo has two sets of hard tyres available – he and Max are the only two cars to have that – and if that proves to be the dominant tyre it could be a significant factor in the second half of the race.”
Sky Sports F1’s Naomi Schiff said: “If Red Bull sort out the issue Perez has got on the car, I think a lot is possible – there’s obviously a lot of speed. But really the question is, ‘is that car reliable?’
“This weekend, we’ve clearly seen some issues in the car. It is fast but on the limit. If Checo is unable to trust the car in those braking zones, he is not going to be wanting to take many risks.”
Horner: Current car ‘right up there’ with Red Bull’s best
Red Bull have recorded one-twos in the first two Grands Prix, with Verstappen winning from Perez in Bahrain before the places flipped in Saudi Arabia.
Horner’s team have only been denied maximum points by virtue of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu setting the fastest lap in Bahrain.
Horner added: “We have a bit of work to do [on Sunday] but that is three pole positions in a row. The team have done an unbelievable job with the car.
“To say it is our best car… we have had some mighty cars but it is definitely right up there. You will only really be able to judge it at the end of the year.”
When asked about Red Bull’s downshift issues, Verstappen said: “It’s just always been there from the start in 2019 [when Red Bull started using Honda power units].
“Some years it’s maybe a little bit better than others, but it’s about fine tuning. It’s not a concern, it’s not a reliability concern but it can be better.”
Source : Sky Sports