Marko: 'Perez was as fast as Verstappen in free air'

09-04-2021 13:05 | Updated: 09-04-2021 13:59
F1 News
Marko: 'Perez was as fast as Verstappen in free air'

With Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing has a new driver alongside Max Verstappen this season, the third in three years. The Mexican driver almost didn't even get a chance to start the race, but in the end Perez finished fifth.

Red Bull Racing's mistake

Perez did not exactly have a dream debut with his new employer. In qualifying it didn't go as planned. Red Bull Racing took a risk with their tyre strategy, but on the medium tyre the Mexican failed to reach Q3. According to Helmut Marko, this was entirely the team's fault. "During qualifying we should have put him on the soft tyre in the second session, that was our mistake," he admitted in an interview with RTL/ntv.

Still, Marko is willing to defend the team's choice. "We put Perez on the medium tyre then so we would have strategic options left. If Perez had started from fourth or fifth on the medium tyre he could have given Valtteri Bottas a hard time. Had he started on the soft tyre, he would probably have lost so much time on pit stop strategy that an attack on the Mercedes driver would be difficult."

Just as fast as Verstappen

A battery problem meant Perez eventually had to start from the pit lane. Nevertheless, he managed to work his way to the front. "It was the first race of the year, so it was mainly getting used to for him," Marko concluded with satisfaction. He therefore thinks that Perez will be a lot closer in the coming races. "When Perez had free air, he was just as fast as Verstappen."

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