Sergio Perez has admitted that there were a few races during the recently completed 2023 campaign where he “lost control”, resulting in things getting “out of our hand”.
The Red Bull driver made a remarkable start to this year and won two of the opening four races, something which saw him labelled as Max Verstappen’s only title rival.
In the opening four races, Perez consistently took the fight to his teammate, before his season dramatically turned for the worse at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Perez crashed in the opening minutes of Q1 at the Circuit de Monaco, leaving him to start from the back of the grid.
Concerningly, this was already the second time in 2023 that he’d been eliminated in Q1, as he also crashed out of qualifying at the Australian Grand Prix a few rounds prior.
Unsurprisingly, Perez failed to make any significant progress, with it having kick-started his downward spiral.
He then went on a miserable run of failing to progress to Q3, whilst he never finished on the top step of the podium again.
As a result, his poor form allowed Lewis Hamilton to contest for second in the Drivers’ Championship, although some positive results towards the end of the season ensured that Checo claimed P2.
The Japanese Grand Prix was perhaps the lowest point of his year, though, as he retired from the event twice.
He initially retired after hitting Kevin Magnussen but was put back into the race by Red Bull so that he could serve two five-second time penalties.
Once he served them, he retired from the race once again.
His driver errors and lack of pace compared to Verstappen resulted in significant speculation about his future, with team principal Christian Horner having ended up getting involved by stressing that his 2024 contract will be respected.
Perez rescuing second in the standings will have resulted in a sigh of relief from him and Red Bull, as he admits it was “a hard year”.
“We had, I don’t know, two or three races where we lost control and things got out of our hand and others where things began to complicate more for us,” Perez admitted to FOX Sports Mexico.
“Looking at it from the outside, it was a hard year. At times we started really well, and at the start of the year we had dreams of fighting for the world championship after being very competitive in those first races.”
Whilst he admits 2023 was hugely challenging, the 33-year-old believes he was always able to “come back”, ensuring that his campaign wasn’t a “total failure”.
“I think that recovering from those difficult moments is what defines our season, though, because there were moments where it would have been easy for all this to beat us and it could have been a total failure – but it was not like that, we were able to come back, we always came back and that is what was salvageable about this year,” said Perez.
“In the end we were able to conclude by finishing with what was the best season ever for Red Bull, but without a doubt I leave reflecting on the big lessons we have from this year.
“Taking that into next year, I think that strengthens the whole environment of my team to be much more solid in 2024.”