Sergio Perez believes he “lacked fundamentals” during qualifying for Formula 1’s Portuguese Grand Prix, despite joining Max Verstappen on the second row at the Algarve circuit.
Red Bull signed Perez for 2021 in the hope that he could act as a strong back-up to Verstappen, to avoid the team fighting with only one car against two Mercedes as it did so often in 2020.
While Perez achieved the minimum requirement of fourth place that Alex Albon failed to manage on a regular basis last year, the Mexican was not pleased with how he has progressed through the weekend in Portugal.
“Here there are some fundamentals that I lacked today, on my tyres, just not getting the maximum out of them,” a downbeat Perez said after qualifying.
“In a way I’m not very pleased with the progression I have over the weekend. I mainly did the same laptime as in FP1, so it’s a lot to understand and go through. I didn’t feel comfortable with the car at all.
“[Qualifying fourth,] that’s the way it should be, of course, but that’s absolutely the minimum. I’m not even thinking on that target.
“I’m not bothered with that stuff, I just want to improve and today although the grid position is a good one, I’m not pleased with how I was on top of the car.
“It’s comparable to Bahrain, but Bahrain was my first weekend, and it was never as bad.
“Imola was a lot better come qualifying [claiming second on the grid], I was able to do the progression. We tried everything [today], a warm-up lap, outlap push and so on, nothing really worked.”
Perez did accept that the Algarve track surface and conditions were difficult for all drivers, and he said his performance would be more of a concern if it came later in the year.
“I think it’s related to the track,” he said. “I would be surprised if not everybody is in the same boat.
“I had a moment at Turn 4 as well, just like Max [whose lap was deleted in Q3 when he ran wide], in Q1 I was in the middle of the corner and all of a sudden I lost the car.
“That takes a bit of confidence out of yourself once that happened, it’s not an easy track. It’s probably a step worse this year because we have less downforce on the cars and the tyres are probably a step worse this year.
“The laptimes are crazy slower here compared to last year, so there’s a big lack of grip.”
Ultimately, Perez made it clear that he was not overall dispirited with how his Red Bull adaptation was going, despite Saturday’s setback.
“If this was the end of the year I’ll be disappointed to be here. I’m pleased with the progression and I know that it’s just a matter of time and understanding.
“The Red Bull requires a different driving style to what I was used to. You see it with the new drivers at new teams, it’s just part of the game.”