Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Sérgio Perez: “I feel like I’m in a good moment but it is a long season and it’s all about consistency”

Sérgio Perez claimed Oracle Red Bull Racing’s fourth pole position of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the Miami Grand Prix. While for Max Verstappen, an error on his first run of Qualifying Three would prove to be a costly one as Charles Leclerc’s crash at the end of the session meant that the two-time world champion was unable to register a time. Forcing Verstappen to settle for a start on the fifth row of the grid in ninth place for Sunday’s race. 

Pérez had largely struggled to match the pace of his team-mate through the practice sessions but a late setup change prior to qualifying allowed the Mexican to feel more comfortable inside the cockpit of the RB19.

Despite feeling more comfortable with his setup come the time of qualifying, Pérez elaborated on how he still had to face the challenge of the freshly laid tarmac at the Miami International Autodrome, when putting together his pole lap.

“Overall, I was happy with today, we delivered when it mattered and under a lot of pressure. It was good. We had a difficult weekend up until qualifying it has been a struggle. The track was improving but this tarmac has only recently been laid and is really sensitive, it has made things a little tricky so I needed that second lap. I knew coming into Turn 3 that you cannot leave anything on the table and it was important to make sure it was a strong lap.”

Pérez’s pole lap would go unchallenged by the front runners after Leclerc forced a red flag in the closing stages of Q3, which left the stewards with no other choice but to not resume the session due to the limited amount of time left on the clock.

Speaking on Leclerc’s session ending incident, Pérez touched on how he took no pleasure in capturing his third career pole position as a result of Leclerc’s misfortune.

It never feels nice when you see another driver crashing or a red flag on track and I was a bit surprised, I thought we were going to go again and not end the session there, but that was it.

The Mexican will be joined on the front row of the grid for Sunday’s race by Fernando Alonso. Last time the two were paired on the front row at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Alonso was able to get the jump on Pérez heading into turn one, something that Pérez is determined to deny this time around.

“I just want to do well tomorrow, it’s a new day and anything can happen. I have to be fully committed and we have to try to do our own race.“The target is to get the perfect launch and then the perfect race. I am very happy; I feel like I am in a good moment but it is a long season and it is all about consistency.”

Max Verstappen: “It’s painful and upsetting”

Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

After a mishap through turn seven and eight ultimately cost Verstappen any chance of fighting for pole position, the Dutchman owned up to his error and admitted that his ninth-place finish in Q3 was “painful and upsetting”.

Speaking how his first run came undone, Verstappen admitted that he was simply pushing the RB19 to it’s limit, when he momentarily lost control and subsequently had to abort the lap.

“The initial problem starts with me today, I was taking the car to its limit and I made a mistake. I had to abort the lap and then you rely on a bit of luck that there won’t be a red flag.

It’s painful and upsetting, we’ve been really quick all weekend, my fastest lap in Q2 would have been quick enough for pole which I think says that we have a quick enough car.

When assessing his possible outcomes for Sunday’s race, Verstappen has earmarked a minimum finishing position of second position. Should Pérez win on Sunday, Verstappen would require a second-place finish with the fastest lap to remain atop of the Drivers’ Championship, which would leave him and his team-mate tied atop of the championship on one-hundred and twelve points apiece.

Of course, I go into every weekend trying to win, but starting ninth is not the optimum position. My minimum target tomorrow should be P2. It’s going to be tough tomorrow for sure, but I made it tough for myself.”