[Perez not adapting “as quickly as I should” to Red Bull F1 upgrades
Perez enjoyed a strong start to the season, taking two early wins as he set out to pose a more credible title challenge to two-time world champion Verstappen.
But from Miami onwards, where Verstappen came through the field to demote polesitter Perez to second, the Mexican has increasingly struggled to keep up with the Dutchman.
Verstappen has since won nine consecutive races, taking both sprint wins since Miami for good measure, while Perez’s season has petered out and he is now looking over his shoulder rather than focusing on Verstappen.
His 2023 trajectory is reminiscent of last year’s campaign, where he felt Red Bull’s upgrade path evolved the car away from his driving style and more towards Verstappen’s liking.
But in Monza, Perez took responsibility for not adapting to the RB19’s upgrades well enough.
“I think every driver through their career or through each season, you get some upgrades to the car that adapt easier to your driving style than others,” Perez said.
“Sometimes you will put a part on it and you will straight away go faster with it. Sometimes you will have to adapt to it.
“I haven’t been able to adapt as quickly as I should and I had to change my driving style a bit to adapt into the car more than in the beginning of the season, for example, when things were coming more naturally.”
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Dom Romney / Motorsport Images
Perez’s 1.3s gap to Verstappen in qualifying for last week’s Dutch Grand Prix raised eyebrows, with Mercedes chief Toto Wolff among those suggesting the pointy Red Bull had been designed around its star driver, an idea that was instantly dismissed by Verstappen.
Perez felt his Zandvoort plight was an anomaly due to the tricky mixed weather conditions, claiming the worst days of adapting to the latest iteration of the Red Bull are now behind him.
“In Zandvoort, it was mainly getting the conditions right and exploiting everything out of the car,” Perez explained.
“If you don’t get the conditions right, you will see a big delta. It’s how it works sometimes. We’ve seen with other drivers those sorts of gaps.”
He added: “Definitely I went through a bit of a tough patch through the middle of the season where I was struggling the most with the car.
“But I think that’s all behind us and we should be having good races from now on.”