Red Bull’s Sergio Perez does not believe that the upgrades introduced by the team in recent races have been helping his cause.
Perez out-qualified team-mate Max Verstappen twice in a row in Monaco and Azerbaijan and, while he went on to win the Monaco Grand Prix, he was comprehensively beaten in the race in Baku by the Dutchman.
Since then, the Mexican has not quite looked at one with his car; he crashed in the second qualifying session in Canada before Verstappen went over nine seconds quicker in that session- that track did get significantly grippier after the subsequent red flag – and he was six tenths slower in Silverstone last weekend in another rain-affected qualifying.
With Verstappen battling with the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz for pole, Perez never really looked in the fight, and the 32-year-old reckons the additional parts on the car have not been conducive to good results for him.
“I think the development of the car has been… I haven’t been as comfortable with it as I was in the beginning, let’s put it that way,” he said.
“I think I’ve got some work to do to understand what’s going on and hopefully have a more straightforward weekend here [in Austria].
“It’s just going away from me in terms of how comfortable I was in the beginning, but saying that, I’ve had only two races of this and last weekend I wasn’t up to it.
“I was feeling pretty bad, so I think this is the first weekend where I will see, really.”
Perez ended the British Grand Prix second after coming back from damage following contact with Leclerc, and the late Safety Car allowed him to leap up to second behind eventual race winner Sainz.
Verstappen had been leading the race ahead of the two Ferraris, but a piece of debris wrecked the underside of his car, and sent him tumbling down the order as he ended seventh.
Perez may have finished ahead of his team-mate in race trim for the fourth time this year, but that does not change the fact that the reigning champion has looked much more comfortable in both of the last two rounds.
1996 world champion Damon Hill reckons that Red Bull altered the RB18 in Verstappen’s favour after seeing him qualify behind Perez in Monaco and Baku.
“Max has found something because he dominated that weekend and with no sign of Sergio looking to be threatening,” he told the F1 Nation Podcast.
“They’ve done something, I get the feeling they’ve done something to help him because he’s not the sort of person who would have taken being out-qualified by Sergio lying down.
“So, I think that they’ve tried to work on giving him what he really needs and it could be that they’ve helped the front end of the car.
“It looked like he got rid of some of that understeer, and it could do him wonders.”
Verstappen leads Perez by 34 points in the Drivers’ Championship heading into Red Bull’s home race in Spielberg this weekend.