Sergio Perez has admitted that the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix was the “worst weekend” of his entire motorsport career, leaving him to question to himself that he “cannot be this bad”.
The Red Bull driver was under immense pressure ahead of the Qatar GP, as his poor mid-season performances had further put his future into doubt.
Daniel Ricciardo was increasingly linked to Red Bull the more Perez faltered, with Checo having finally taken action to turn his season around after Qatar.
Perez actually started 2023 incredibly well and was a title contender, after he won two of the opening four races.
However, it was from the Monaco Grand Prix where he crashed in Q1 that his season turned upside down and his seat started to get linked elsewhere.
Driver errors resulted in the pressure on the 33-year-old to intensify throughout the summer and into autumn, before he reached his lowest point at the Lusail International Circuit.
At the Sprint weekend in Qatar, Perez was eliminated in Q2, before he managed to qualify eighth for the Sprint.
However, he was taken out in the Sprint race whilst fighting in the midfield, resulting in extensive damage to his car which led to a pit-lane start for the main race.
Whilst this was a significant setback, he was tipped to still score good points, given the strength of the RB19.
Progress was something he hardly made, though, as he could only recover to P10 in the race.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was honest in saying that Perez had a “shocker”, resulting in the side working out ahead of the United States Grand Prix how to get him back to his best.
Perez did improve considerably in the closing rounds after Qatar and was able to secure second in the Drivers’ Championship, but why did it take him until the race in the Middle East to solve his problems.
He admits that it’s because Qatar was the “worst weekend” and left him certain that something wasn’t right with his set up.
“Because Qatar was really the worst weekend I remember in a while, probably my worst weekend ever in the sport,” Perez told selected members of the media in Abu Dhabi, as per F1i.com.
“It was such a bad weekend that I really felt like: ‘I cannot be this bad, there’s something that’s going on’.
“When you have these back-to-back races, I feel like sometimes there is not enough time to really go through it all. So, I felt like we really had to take a bit of time to make sure that we understood which way we were going.
“Obviously, we had a deficit within the car setup that we were playing around [with] weekend by weekend and we were just not able to progress through it.
“But once we managed to get on top of that, we understood a lot of things that we were trying to compensate for. And that just basically meant that we were not just not doing things right.
“I think that has been really, really good on our side. I mean, it was bad that it happened but in a way, it was really good because it really strengthened our team quite a lot.”