Sergio Perez failed to reach Q3 for the fourth consecutive weekend in Austria, suffering from a series of track limits violations that put him 15th on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Considering the mounting pressure on Checo to perform, aside from the near-guaranteed podium available from having a clean weekend in that RB19, there were plenty of reasons for the Mexican to elevate his game.
In terms of raw pace, as shown in Q1, Perez seemed more than capable of putting himself on the front two rows and qualifying within a few tenths of teammate Max Verstappen.
However, despite having a car capable of comfortably setting a lap among the ten fastest cars, the 33-year-old failed to leave himself enough margin for error in the final two corners.
Christian Horner was a frustrated figure after qualifying, pointing out that – among other reasons to be annoyed – Perez was showing good speed in his RB19.
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) June 30, 2023
Speaking to the media post-qualifying, Perez explained that he believes traffic on his final attempt was costly:
“We were a bit confused, but then once I got the feedback that it was on the way into [Turn] 10, it was all clear,” he said in the media pen.
“And I was on a good lap, but then all of a sudden, on my final lap, I found Albon, I think.
“I just went straight; I could not stop. I think I lost a tenth or a bit more than that just by going straight, but the stewards wouldn’t consider that I was blocked.
“There are [only] so many things I can control, and unfortunately, on this one, you’re closing a good lap, and then all of a sudden, you are blocked, and you have a penalty.”
Traffic is certainly an issue in qualifying, especially in short circuits such as Austria, but excuses of this nature do not justify the Mexican driver’s poor form in recent events.
The dominant nature of the RB19 means Red Bull has no direct threat in the constructor’s standings, but these results will not give the Austrian team confidence in Perez’s ability to perform if rival teams begin to close the gap.
Perez will have the machinery to redeem himself with a strong finish in the foreseeable future, but performances such as the one on Friday qualifying will do little to alleviate the scrutiny and pressure he currently faces.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang