Sergio Perez used losing out to Charles Leclerc in F1 Bahrain GP to study the Ferrari car, as he notes being comfortable with the RB19.
For Perez, it was second on the grid and second in the race despite a poor getaway at the start where he was passed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc going into Turn 1. He couldn’t get past him considering the fresh soft tyre choice for the Monegasque.
It took him a while but it worked out well for him after he managed to pass him with superior strategy in place. That initial phase was a time of learning for Perez as he spent a large chunk of the race stuck behind the Ferrari, where he collected information about the SF-23 that he could relay to his engineers to be ahead of them this year.
“Yeah, I actually learned a lot about their car, like where they are weak, where they’re strong, or stronger than us,” said Perez. “So yeah, I think I need to make sure that it stays fresh for my engineers in the briefing.”
It was an amusing and unique scenario for the Mexican but every little bit of information helps in a title quest. It was a fast drive from Perez who showed good pace but he couldn’t show it as much initially when Leclerc got the drop on him. It was a touch aggressive play when they went right near the pit exit before returning to the racing line.
The fresh soft compound did helped Leclerc in the first stint eventually. “That was really the case, missing out to Charles on that first stint,” said Perez. “It was really difficult to get by him. He had the new tyres. So you could see the difference on that first stint. And as soon as I was getting a bit closer to him, trying to attack him earlier on, I will just deg and destroy my tyres”.
“So I had to be really patient and get my way through it. And once he did, I was able to drive some fast laps and, let’s say, that my tyres and on the second stint were in better shape than his and I was able to get through. But yeah, it was just too late. It was just a few laps too many, too late, and that put us quite behind Max”.
“Once that happened, we basically just maintained the gap throughout the race. So we had no chance to fight for the win. But it was all about minimising the bad start. And we’ve got plenty of things to analyse, to try to improve and get this consistency throughout the season,” summed up Perez.
Indeed, he did minimise his bad start and second was a great fillip to his confidence for the 2023 campaign. It also helped Red Bull extract maximum points in the first round where they faced a double DNF in 2022. It was also a good weekend which saw him at the sharp end consistently in practice and qualifying.
Having had some issues to be on top of RB18, Perez seems to be content with the RB19 so far. “I’m comfortable,” he started. “I’m comfortable with the car. I’m happy. I think we’ve got some work to do. I think we, both drivers are pushing the car in the same direction, which is good. And yeah, I think it’s been an amazing start to the season. Yeah, our best ever start ever, so very different to last year.”
For Perez, it is an important season, contracted to the end of 2024, Daniel Ricciardo joined as the team’s third driver this season, part of the Red Bull family in the past, he knows the set up too well. Any slip ups from the Mexican, it could make way for the Australian in the scheme of things.
Here’s Sergio Perez losing out at the start: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-bahrain-grand-prix-leclerc-jumps-perez-for-p2-as-the-aston-martins-make-contact-at-the-race-start.1759540828802325802.html
Here’s Max Verstappen on car feeling like testing again
Here’s how F1 Bahrain GP panned out