Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021

Perez dissatisfied with result but encouraged by pace in Portugal

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In the round-up: Sergio Perez says his somewhat lonely race in last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix gave him the space to learn more about how the RB16B should be driven over a grand prix.

In brief

Perez agrees with Horner that his race understanding has improved

After finishing fourth in the Portuguese Grand Prix, Perez said he hoped for more but, as team boss Christian Horner summarised, he had got more than points from the experience.

“Although the result wasn’t fantastic in Portugal, the race pace was a good step forward.

“But more than that, the understanding; after you can analyse that race and compare it in many aspects to the leaders and and learn from from that what they’re doing, how I can improve my race pace. And that’s something that definitely has done a good step in the right direction.”

Alfa Romeo need rivals to hit problems to reach top 10

Giovinazzi started where he finished in Portugal
Antonio Giovinazzi has said that the Portimao race, despite an incident between himself and team mate Kimi Raikkonen early on that took the older driver out of the race, reflected Alfa Romeo’s lack of points-scoring potential when other teams don’t hit trouble

“We qualified P12 and we ended the race P12, so I think so far, this is our position. Especially since it was a clear race.

“Nobody stopped in front of us and [no one ahead] was a DNF. So, for sure, much better compared to last year, but still not enough to to be in the top 10.”

Latifi was “hanging on” in Portugal

After several years of running around at the back, Williams’ qualifying pace at the Portuguese Grand Prix potentially over-promised. Nicholas Latifi reflected that, “‘Tough’ is a bit of an understatement,” for how their race went.

“It was a very, very tricky weekend and especially race. From what we’ve seen afterwards, I think it was kind of what we were expecting going into the weekend. With the promising low-fuel pace that was eventually shown, you kind of want to go into Sunday hoping that it wasn’t going to be as bad as we thought it was going to be.

“[We were] just trying to be a bit on the optimistic side. We were anticipating with the way the conditions were and just the sensitivities of our car that, unfortunately, it was just the case with how difficult it was to drive. It was just really a race of hanging on, trying to keep the car on the track.”

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Comment of the day

How to solve a problem like Hamilton? You built your team around one of the greatest of all time, but where do you go when you need to get someone new? David BR says maybe Mercedes should move sooner rather than later, if they’re staying in F1:

[Hamilton’s] not going to say anything publicly against Bottas and he needs him driving well. Privately (e.g. to Wolff) who knows.

Hamilton’s experience has been one of negative rivalry when he had chances for a world championship (Alonso, Rosberg), a period when it didn’t really matter in championship terms but the situation soured (Button), and fairly easy domination of the other driver (Kovalainen, Bottas).

Where would Russell or Norris fit in? On evidence, he must anticipate the arrival of a faster team mate as destabilising. Sure he relishes competition, that’s evident from this season, but clearly he much prefers that competition to be outside his team.

That’s why Mercedes really have to make this call for themselves. They need a replacement for LH at some point, isn’t it better to put a faster team mate there, even if it unsettles Hamilton a bit?

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On this day in F1

  • 15 years ago today Lewis Hamilton completed a clean sweep of both GP2 races at the Nurburgring with victory ahead of Nicolas Lapierre

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 41 comments on “Perez dissatisfied with result but encouraged by pace in Portugal”

    1. COTD: I don’t think Hamilton is worried about a faster teammate that could give him hard racing. I think he is more worried about someone who will attempt to do dirty tactics. Alonso and Rosberg have been part of this. If Hamilton and Rosberg were not in the championship fight in 2014, would Hamilton have been upset as he was when Rosberg parked his car at Mirabeau…? We’ll never know…

      1. @krichelle Yeah when everybody else are feuding and cheating, it’s perfectly reasonable to think Russell will too

      2. Ham never needed dirty tactics because has everyone behind him, that said Ham has his fair share of questionable moves

      3. ian dearing
        7th May 2021, 8:51

        The racers who enjoy driving off into the distance are few and far between, Lorenzo and Vettel in recent years spring to mind. The vast majority from karting right through to F1 enjoy the battle. That’s what attracted them to it in the first place and why they strive to be the best. Given Ham has spent the majority of his life, notwithstanding the last few years, doing just that Iv’e yet to see the evidence that shows otherwise. And I’ve yet to see anyone explain the logic of Hamilton helping George over the last few years, if he is so worried about him joining the team at some point.
        As for games, I don’t believe George is stupid enough to think he can just walk into Mercedes and get away the nonsense that defined the Hamilton/Rosberg years. Or would want to.

      4. @krichelle It’s not the faster team mate per se, it’s the fact that closer battles almost inevitably lead to on track (or off track) friction at some point. When that happens – as we saw HAM v ROS, or VER v RIC, or VET v LEC – the tension ups dramatically and, in 3 of these cases, someone left next season. I’m sure Russell and Hamilton would start out competing cleanly. But it just takes a collision, or a push off track, to begin a downward spiral. My point is that for Hamilton it’s a choice between doing just fine with Bottas alongside, including this season apparently, and potential friction and tension in the team. So why risk it? But he doesn’t need to worry about Mercedes after he’s gone. Or he may just think, if you’re worried Russell can’t replace me, sign Verstappen or someone else. Personally, I’d rather see Russell there next season alongside Hamilton. But it’s Mercedes who have to calculate what’s best for them. (Thanks for COTD @hazelsouthwell et al.)

    2. Perez finished 40 seconds behind Hamilton. Completely out of contention. Scoring just as few points from the first 3 races as Albon did. With Albon in a much less competitive car and while Albon had a DNF vs Perez flunking out for one race on his own. Yet Perez gets heralded as if he walked on water. Sure you could argue that Perez is doing so much worse since he still needs to get even more accustomed to the car, but the fact remains that Perez performed significantly worse than Albon so far.

      On the other hand Bottas was in the fight with Verstappen all race. A fight he never should have been in since he got the pole which Verstappen should have had. Fighting to take back the position (which he only lost due to undercut and a slow pitstop) up until he dropped back due to a sensor issue. And then people cry for Bottas to be thrown under the bus.

      Imola was a shambles for Bottas perhaps, but Perez was just as bad there.

      1. With regards to the cars themselves, Albon had a car that was objectively much faster than the midfield pack – it looks like a case of Mercedes being slowed a bit more by the new rules, but with the midfield pack still a similar distance behind Red Bull.

        That said, you complain that Perez was slow, but Albon was lapped by Max during the 2020 race – how was that a better performance?

        You might have a point that Bottas does seem to be given disproportionate criticism for his performance, but I am not sure I agree with the way you argue your case.

        1. Albon had a car that was on pace with the Racing Point. Perez has a car that’s a second per lap faster than anything behind.

      2. Not fully agree. Perez vs Ham gap was partly due to attempt on FL wasn’t it? Overall RB seems to have caught up a bit vs Mercedes. Although we might have been fooled a bit by the slow start Mercedes had this season. Barcelona will give us more insight, but it looks like not much have changed vs last year, although Max should be able to steal 2nd from time to time from Bottas and perhaps some more on RB favouring tracks

        1. Nope, Perez did not attempt an FL he was too close in front of Norris for a stop.

          However Bottas did get a free pitstop for an FL because Perez was so far behind.

          1. RandomMallard (@)
            7th May 2021, 10:39

            I think what Mayrton means is RB put Perez on the softs with about 10-15 laps to go after his really long first stint, to try and get the FLAP point and close the gap to Bottas so he couldn’t pit for FLAP. While Perez did go purple for a bit, the softs seemed to have no pace on the car and he wasn’t able to close the gap to Bottas. Whether that was a problem with the tires, Perez, or a combination of both is still to be seen.

            1. @randommallard Perez wasn’t on a FL attempt. He was simply on his second stint to the end of the race. Sure it was a shorter stint and he could have gotten the fastest lap from that. Also because of being on softs, but then he had wasted so much time being used as a pawn for Verstappen in that abnormally long stint that Bottas actually had a free stop and could go for a true FL attempt.

            2. RandomMallard (@)
              7th May 2021, 12:56

              @f1osaurus So with the abnormally long stint being used a a pawn for Verstappen, is it Perez’s fault or RB’s fault for using him as a pawn? You *could* (and I’m not trying to appease Perez too much as it still took him too long to re-overtake) make the point that Perez was held up by Norris who overtook him illegally (potentially).

              So far this season Perez has outscored Albon 28 to 15 in the three races they’ve had compared to last year (Bahrain, Imola, and Portugal), and that would have been 28 to 12 if Perez’s engine hadn’t failed 4 laps from the end in Bahrain last year. Add to the fact that Perez was driving his first 3 races in the car against Albon who had driven it for over 15 races by that point, at it’s difficult to say that Albon outperformed Perez. Sure you could make the point that the RB was slower relative to the field last year compared to this year, but it still doesn’t explain how Albon finished behind an Alfa Romeo and Perez who had been spun around and was last after lap 1 in Portimao last year.

              I do agree with your point about Bottas getting a bit too much criticism though. He has done his job to the letter: cause no drama, pick up the pieces when Lewis struggles (okay he only does that some of the time) and help us win the constructors.

            3. @randommallard Well they used him as a pawn because he was out of it already I guess. But Perez was just poor on that stint too. And then again in his last stint where Perez also lost so much time again to Bottas so that Bottas got that free pitstop.

              The point remains. Perez has a much much more competitive car. So much so that being 8 tenths slower than Verstappen’s fastest Q3 lap he was still in P4 for Q3. While Albon would end up on P8 or P9 with that same gap.

              Perez has it a lot easier and is not delivering any more points so far.

              Perez has been was useless in all 3 aces. Not even through to Q3 in Bahrain, a total mess in Imola and just useless all around in Portugal. He only managed to not score less points than Albon because their car is ahead of Mercedes and further ahead of the other competition.

            4. RandomMallard (@)
              7th May 2021, 14:00

              @f1osaurus But was he out of it? All it needed was one SC and Perez is suddenly in prime contention for the win, ala Albon in Austria that you mention below.

              I wouldn’t say Perez has been useless in every race, with the exception being Imola but Albon managed to have a worse race in the dry at the end of the day. He’s at least been up there, which at most races at the end of last season Albon wasn’t, despite having many more races experience in that car. If Albon qualified outside the top 10 last year, he would often only manage to recover to 8th or 9th. Perez got to P5 after starting from the pitlane.

              And yes, the Red Bull was closer to the midfield in 2020, but Albon still finished behind an Alfa Romeo in Portugal, and Perez who had been spun around on lap 1 and was also on a 2 stop. And he was lapped by Max, and while he took an extra stop, that’s not worth a lap in time. And then Sakhir, when Perez was last on lap 1, and Max was out of the race. With the mess Merc made of the second SC, Albon should have been up there, but instead he was 6th while Perez won.

              I really wanted Alex to do well and wanted him to at least stay in F1, although maybe not with RB, but I think the decision to promote Perez was definitely the right one and Perez will only grow in confidence as he gets used to the car.

            5. @randommallard Yes he was completely out of it. If he had continued for 5 laps more their back story might have made some sense. Indeed he might have made the overcut work and then had a slim chance of a safety car as well.

              When he started losing 1 and up to 3 seconds per lap it was just utter nonsense to let him continue.

              If this was really a viable strategy other teams would do this as well.

              The only times we see this happens is when sacrificing the second car could potentially help the lead car of the team catch up to an opponent by blocking that opponent. Leclerc and Raikkonen have been used like that for Vettel, and Bottas once in Hungary for Hamilton.

            6. RandomMallard (@)
              7th May 2021, 15:54

              @f1osaurus So is this Perez being ‘useless’, or Red Bull doing their usual thing of leaving the 2nd car out to dry in the hope of something very small happening? I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the driver’s fault when the team put you on a bad strategy

            7. @randommallard First of all they do that because he’s was already useless from the start. He was 10 seconds behind the top 3 in a few laps.

              Second of all, if it was just the long stint where he lost a lot of time he should still have been able top keep Bottas from going for a fastest lap. Instead Perez also lost 5 to 6 seconds in his shorty 15 lap stint on softs. Leaving Bottas with 2.5s gap extra he needed for a free pit stop.

            8. RandomMallard (@)
              7th May 2021, 21:08

              @f1osaurus I am also confused at how Perez managed to lose so much time in that second stint. Although, the softs seemed to be a difficult tire all weekend (didn’t Lewis set the fastest time of the whole weekend on the mediums), so that might have something to do with it. But Perez did seem to struggle in that second stint

        2. Yes, Perez vs Ham gap was 40 secs at the end after his FL attempt. He was at the 8/10secs gap to 3rd most of the race in similar pace as the front runners.

      3. @f1osaurus You and your argument against Perez, LOL.
        Albon very possibly would’ve done worse than Perez in the first three races.
        @Anon has the same point as I did the last time.

        1. @jerejj Why would Albon perform worse in a more competitive car?

          It’s just ridiculous how people hype Perez up for performing worse than Albon did.

          1. RandomMallard (@)
            7th May 2021, 10:42

            Are people forgetting Perez’s engine failure on the formation lap in Bahrain? I know he was outside the top 10 already but with Bottas’ slow second stop, that engine problem could have prevented him from *potentially* even a podium, but more likely at least stopping Bottas having a gap for a FLAP pitstop, giving Max that extra point in the championship.

            1. @randommallard Not forgetting, but like you said it didn’t really cost him much. He put himself out of contention already and opposite that, Albon had a chance of a win and instead ended with a DNF. So apart from being in a less competitive car, Albon really lost out a lot more.

            2. RandomMallard (@)
              7th May 2021, 13:01

              @f1osaurus Sorry I’m probably missing something obvious but which race was it that Albon was in contention for a win in. My memory of last season is already fading!

            3. @randommallard Austria when during a safety period we car saw Albon change for fresh tyres when Mercedes couldn’t. Where Albon tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside and cut the corner tight making life difficult for Hamilton with then Hamilton not being able to go tighter and they collided.

          2. RandomMallard (@)
            7th May 2021, 14:03

            @f1osaurus I think you’re missing @jerejj‘s point. He said Albon may well have performed worse than Perez in the first 3 races, as in, instead of a 5th, 11th and 4th he could have been lower in the RB16B. So not worse compared to the rest of the field (with the more competitive car), but worse compared to Perez’s performances IRL.

            1. @randommallard His and Anon’s point is that the car that Albo drove was more competitive. This is demonstrably nonsense. Albon was 8 tenths behind Verstappen and ended up on P8 or P9. Perez is 8 tenths behind Verstappen’s fastest time and he’s in P4.

            2. RandomMallard (@)
              7th May 2021, 15:58

              Oh yeah I misunderstood the original comment.

              @f1osaurus Where are you getting 8 tenths from? He was 3 tenths off Verstappen in Q2 in Bahrain, outqualified Max in Imola and only 1 and a half tenths behind in Portimao?

            3. @randommallard Verstappen set a 1:18.2. Which was 7 tenths faster than Perez in Q3. This time was deleted even though he clearly lost time from his excursion and Verstappen could have gone even faster if he had not had the car snap out on him. At the very least 1 tenth faster, but probably even 2 or 3 tenths. So on the safe side a proper lap with that Red Bull would have been at the very least 8 tenths faster than what Perez produced.

              He was faster by an even bigger gap in FP3. Perez really is way off the pace.

            4. RandomMallard (@)
              7th May 2021, 20:53

              Perez could have done a 1.10 if he straight lined all the corners! Verstappen’s lap was deleted because he went off the track illegally. Regardless of whether or not he gained time, it didn’t count and on the one where it mattered he was only 15 hundredths quicker

    3. COTD: 100% agreed.

      As for Kimi: Yes, focusing on the road ahead is important, albeit doing something else on a straight line shouldn’t distract as much as it did at the time.

    4. I find it incredible Giovinazzi’s did not have a puncture.
      Are the FIA sporting regs drafted in French or English? If what Chainbear read is a translation then chainbear is referring to a bad translation.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        7th May 2021, 10:46

        I think the reason GIO didn’t get a puncture is because the contact was against the rear of the tire, and not the sidewall. If you get the sidewall of the tire, you’re in much bigger trouble (Lewis/Seb in Mexico 2017, the Ferrari’s in Brazil in 2019).

        With regards to the sporting regs, I’m not sure what they’re drafted in but the ones available online are all in English, as opposed to the International Sporting Code with has the French on one half of the paper and the English on the other side. I’m not sure about French conjugations but I know Spanish has different verb endings for the ‘he/she/it’ forms (which usually defaults to he in translations, but any version is technically correct) and the ‘they’ forms of verbs

      2. @peartree The regulations are drafted in French. However, Article 9.6.3 of the FIA Statutes has a gender-neutral term:

        “There must not be anything in the nominees’ record that calls into question their professional integrity.”

        The French equivalent term used there is “leur”.

        If the FIA can manage it there, it should be able to manage it everywhere.

        1. @alianora-la-canta Randommallard explains it well. it is like any word is either a he or a she. Leur is masculine but they did a better job translating it. Even if a word has nothing to do with gender it still is a he or a she.

          1. @peartree Fair enough :)

    5. ‘You can break so much later and you arrive 50kph faster’: Leclerc on getting to grips with F3 (Formula 3)

      Really – this is a motor racing website, we should know our breaks from our brakes shouldn’t we @hazelsouthwell – especially when the source story has got it right.

    6. Re Checo: Checo has my great support and he will get great results in the next couple of races.
      Re Alfa Romeo: I seriously hope Alfa Romeo improves.
      Re Spanish GP is also airing on RTL.

    7. For the people disatisfied with perez, i think he is overrated and should be sacked now for his bad performance, daniel ricciardo, vettel and alonso as well, GET THIS LAME DRIVERS OUT NOW.

      1. Early season sacking hasn’t happened since 1985 and mid-season sacking hasn’t happened since 2017. Too bad eh?

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