until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Why Red Bull’s wingman is so far down the Qatar GP grid

by Edd Straw
3 min read

Sergio Perez blamed his failure to reach Q3 in qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix on the tyres being below temperature after traffic on his outlaps.

Perez missed the cut-off to reach Q3 by 0139s, despite using softs for his second run, having also struggled with the tyres on his first run when he was on mediums.

He appeared to be set to do enough, but a combination of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz’s strong lap on mediums from the first run, and time lost at the end of the lap – including in the Turn 15 left-hander where he was a gear down compared to his best lap – swung it against the Red Bull driver.

Perez said after the session that “we changed our approach” to the tyre preparation in order to build the relevant temperature given the traffic and the cooler conditions compared to the daytime practice sessions.

Sergio Perez Red Bull Qatar GP F1

“The main problem was our outlaps,” said Perez when asked by The Race to explain his problems.

“We had a lot of traffic and we had a very slow sector three and that really hurt the tyre.

“Not being in good shape going into the first sector puts a lot of load through the tyres straightway in Turn 1 and 2.”

While Perez’s engineer, Hugh Bird, told him the tyre temperatures looked promising as he headed to the end of the pitlane, traffic there forced Perez to back off.

This marked the start of a relatively slow preparation lap, culminating in a 64-second final sector as he waited for Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, as well as Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, to launch their laps.

Sergio Perez’s end-of-Q2 out-lap comms

HB: Okay, these tyres are looking a bit better out of the box… Okay, so let’s lean on these tyres a bit more.

HB: Loads of time to get this lap in, let’s make sure the tyres are in a good shape.

HB: Okay, so, fairly busy sector three.

SP: Who’s behind?

HB: Hamilton on an out-lap behind, just coming into Turn 8, Bottas first car [unclear] at Turn 3.

HB: Let’s lean on the tyres through this high-speed…. Okay, still got four cars to go.

HB: Push toggle, push toggle available for Turn 1, Hamilton’s coming through, doing his own thing… Bottas in Turn 14, Bottas is pushing, he’s now in 15. Bottas coming through on a push lap, let him through.

HB: Alonso’s gone, just Hamilton to go. Recharge off when you’re ready, recharge off.

This ends Perez’s recent run of strong qualifying performances in the United States, Mexico and Brazil where he was across the three races on average 0.151s slower than Verstappen.

Perez’s absence from the front of the grid this time by looked unfortunately-timed, for both Verstappen’s drivers’ title challenge and Red Bull’s hopes of overhauling Mercedes in the constructors’ standings, even before the news that Verstappen could face a yellow flag-related grid drop.

Sergio Perez Red Bull Qatar GP F1

At a Losail International Circuit that isn’t expected to lend itself to overtaking, Perez anticipates a difficult race.

“It’s going to be a tough one tomorrow, there’s no doubt about it, to make the progress we are required to do,” said Perez.

“But tomorrow it’s a new day and we’ll give everything we can to minimise the damage and hopefully come out with good points.”

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