Sergio Perez apologised to his team after crashing out of qualifying for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, apart from messing up his weekend he also did them no favours by exposing the ‘magical’ floor of the Red Bull RB19 to the world, live on TV.
Design guru Adrian Newey remained poker-faced as the RB19s ‘under-the-skirt’ secrets were revealed as the cranes hoisted his creation high above the track, cameras clicking gleefully at the revelation of the underside of the dominant Formula 1 car of this season.
While the Mexican veteran was also left to rue a rookie-like error which is unlikely to see him win at the Principality on Sunday, as he did a year ago.
Notably, Perez seemed to be finding a good rhythm as the weekend progressed, and was closer to Red Bull teammate and pace-setter Max Verstappen, in FP3Monaco FP3: Red Bulls fly, Rivals nowhere, Hamilton crashes earlier in the day, than most expected – 0073s shy to be precise. Thus RBR front-row lockout was certainly on the cards on Saturday, until Fate decided otherwise.
It was a painful double whammy for Perez, and he knew it when faced with microphones in the TV pen after the incident: “I was happy with the balance and then in Q1 you are naturally progressing and finding new limits.”
Those limits he exceeded were hurtling into T1, he appeared to miss his braking point, too fast he oversteered into the barrier, crunching heftily into it with the right side of the car which bounced into the middle of the road where it stopped, broken.
Checo: I’m really disappointed with myself
“Going into the corner I lost the rear end quite late into the corner,” explained Perez. “I became a passenger as it was so late I had nowhere to go – I couldn’t cut the corner or go out of the corner and I ended up in the wall. It’s a big mistake from my side and I’m very sorry for my team.
“I’m really disappointed with myself and it’s going to be a very difficult Sunday to do anything,” lamented Perez, who will be making his 241st start in F1.
In terms of a “big mistake” it is in terms of the Championship battle between the two teammates. As it stands no other driver (barring Fernando Alonso perhaps) but Perez can stop Verstappen from cruising to his third F1 title in three years.
However, Monaco can be a lottery, with rain reportedly looming around Monaco Grand Prix time n Sunday, plus the unpredictable nature of the race means that nothing is a given.
It is fair to say that an afternoon of damage limitation for Perez would mean points, perhaps a podium but there are a lot of cars between him and achieving that goal. But he does have Red Bull RB19 at his disposal to do the business.
Ahead of Round 6, the 69th Grand Prix de Monaco Grand Prix, Verstappen leads the 2023 F1 Championship on 119 points, 14 ahead of Perez; the pair have already steered Red Bull to a massive 122 points lead over their closest rivals Aston Martin