Sergio Perez’s paranoia explained after Max Verstappen gave Red Bull a ‘hard time’

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was dumped out of qualifying in last place after beaching his car in the gravel before he could set a time at the Australian Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez had a challenging weekend in Australia after he was eliminated from Q1 before setting a time and forced to start from the pitlane after a “technical issue” hampered his performance.

The Mexican driver ran wide at Turn 3 after he locked up when braking on his first flying lap in qualifying. 

The unfortunate situation left him beached in the gravel and unable to continue the session, relegating him down to last place for the Grand Prix.

“We had a bit of a technical issue already from FP3 and we thought we’d fixed that, but we obviously didn’t and it was really difficult,” Perez explained afterwards.

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“Very difficult to do anything out there, just braking I became a passenger as soon as I touched the brakes.

“It’s something that is moving the brake balance quite far forwards under braking and I just hope we are able to fix it as a team tomorrow and be able to race and minimise the damage,” he added.

Looking at the situation that unfolded in Australia, Motorsport’s Mark Hughes claimed that “Sergio Perez would be forgiven if he was a little bewildered after the Australian Grand Prix weekend, with a side order of paranoia.”

“When a car is so superior, any reliability differences have a much bigger impact on the points differences between team-mates. If [Max] Verstappen suffered two DNFs and Perez won those races, it would take seven races of Verstappen beating Perez into second before they were back to parity on points.

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“Verstappen certainly has realised this – hence his giving the team such a hard time about his reliability problem in qualifying at Jeddah.

“Perez will surely have arrived at the same realisation. If he was a paranoid person – and most competitive drivers are – he might imagine that the team may try to insure against getting into a situation where its favoured driver gets into a tricky points deficit through any unreliability, by ensuring Perez has an early-season deficit,” he added.

Leaving Australia, Perez’s chance of leading the Drivers’ Standings for the first time in his Formula 1 career appears to be slipping away, as Verstappen created a 15 point cushion to his teammate.

With both Red Bulls capable of finishing in P1 and P2, Perez will need Verstappen to have serious bad luck at some point in the season to close the gap.