SPIELBERG, Austria – Sergio Perez’s terrible qualifying performance at the Austrian Grand Prix earned him a public rebuke from Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who scuttled talks of replacing the Mexican driver.
Perez easily had the pace to get into Q3, but three lap times were canceled for exceeding track limits at the end of the Red Bull-owned circuit, despite repeated warnings from his team.
It was the fourth race in a row that he didn’t make it to the last qualifying session. Horner said Perez simply didn’t listen to the team’s warnings about track limitations.
“He’s got the pace today,” Horner told Sky Sports after qualifying. “He has a car that could easily fit in the first or second row. He could keep up with Max’s times… [just] Stay in the white lines!
“One shot, two shots, ‘Checo just stays in the white lines’, three shots and that’s it. I mean, as frustrating as he could have been there, he could have made it. So that’s the frustration. Fantastic.” I’ve got pole, but I don’t feel complete yet.
Sergio Perez looks back on a disappointing 15th place qualifying for Red Bull at the Austrian F1 Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring. Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
Although Perez’s ongoing problems and the presence of eight-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo as Red Bull’s third driver have prompted suggestions that the team might make a change, Horner categorically dismissed the prospect.
“Checo… everyone has our fullest support.” [him]. “Anybody talking about replacing Checo is wrong,” he said.
ESPN understand Perez’s position is still very secure as Ricciardo’s most logical route back to the starting line-up is via Red Bull’s junior team, AlphaTauri.
Earlier this month, ESPN reported that Ricciardo’s “fairytale” move would result in Red Bull.
Perez’s contract with Red Bull runs until the end of 2024.
Team-mate Max Verstappen, who leads Perez in the championship by 69 points, clinched pole position on Friday but his team-mate will start Sunday’s race from 15th place.
Times were also dropped during the session at Verstappen, but Horner said the two-time world champion was determined to set a time good enough to make it happen.
“At least he answered,” said Horner when told that Verstappen had also erased times. “We said to stay in the white lines and he did. He built a certain conservativeness into his laps to ensure he has a wheel inside the line. I think if he had done that he would have had a little more time in the car in that last sector.” “I didn’t go for it. So he drove a little cautiously.”
Adding to the frustration, Horner felt that a strong performance in qualifying could have provided Perez with positive momentum at a crucial time.
“The biggest pressure he’s under is the pressure he’s putting on himself,” Horner said. “Today he had the pace. In the first practice he was right there. The lap times he did today were tenth for tenth with Max. He can do it. It’s a huge shame because I think that would have really kick-started him.
“And of course it’s frustrating for us as a team that we have two Ferraris that are a little closer than a Red Bull while Checo isn’t in the right position.”
Perez will have a chance to make amends on Saturday, which is dedicated entirely to the sprint race.