Red Bull publicly call out Sergio Perez over apparent excuse

Sergio Perez slid off the circuit four times during FP3, prior to his off in qualifying in Melbourne.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has seemingly put Sergio Perez’s early exit from qualifying at the Australian Grand Prix down to driver error rather than a technical fault, after Perez slid into the gravel in Q1.

Perez endured the worst Saturday of his career at the Albert Park Circuit, with the Mexican having slid off the circuit several times in FP3, before going off the track again at the start of Q1.

The Mexican slid off the circuit at Turn Three and became beached in the gravel, meaning he started Sunday’s race from last.

The 33-year-old had been suffering from an issue in FP3 which resulted in his errors in practice, with the Mexican having been confident in Q1 that his off was due to the same reason.

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Marko, though, explained after qualifying that Perez’s trip to the gravel in Q1 “wasn’t like the practice sessions”, with the Austrian having admitted that the Mexican simply “slid out”.

“We had a problem with the engine braking in FP3,” commented Marko to Servus TV.

“Under braking, we didn’t get the right adjustment. Because of that, Sergio was unsettled, there was understeer.

“There was a little push from the engine, but [Perez’s issue in qualifying] wasn’t like the practice sessions. At the beginning it was a bit slippery and unfortunately he slid out of it.”

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Perez did exceptionally well in the race to recover a strong points finish, with the Red Bull driver having finished fifth despite having actually started from the pitlane.

To further help his recovery, Perez claimed the fastest lap of the race, meaning Max Verstappen’s advantage in the Drivers’ Championship only extended to 15 points.

Perez was also voted as the Driver of the Day for his exemplary recovery, which included some superb overtakes at the incredibly quick Turn Nine.

The Mexican was pleased with his performance after having “lost a bit of confidence” on Saturday, with the driver actually believing he could’ve finished higher if he’d “been a big more aggressive earlier on”.

“Generally, it was a good result today,” Perez said after the race, as per Red Bull’s press release.

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“Yesterday, I obviously lost a bit of confidence with the car, but we made a lot of changes overnight so that helped heading into the race. I had a really good restart the first time, I jumped 3 or 4 places but then it was a bit of a mess with the DRS train.

“I was frustrated later in the race because I couldn’t advance any further, but it was so difficult to get through the field with tyre deg low and everyone going on to the hard tyres quickly.

“Maybe if I’d been a bit more aggressive earlier on, I could’ve finished higher, but I’m happy we finished P5 and even managed to secure the fastest lap. Overall, this race gives us confidence heading to Baku in a few weeks and we look forward to the challenge that it brings.”