Sergio Perez has opened up on his Red Bull struggles in 2023, admitting his disbelief at how bad things got during the season.
The season got off to a good start for the Mexican. After winning in Jeddah and Baku, Perez was just six points behind his team-mate Max Verstappen and sensationally aiming to take his fight to him in the world championship.
But after the reigning champion scythed through the field from ninth in Miami to win after Perez's pole position, the latter was dealt a psychological blow.
He failed to reach the top 10 in qualifying for the next five races in a row – ending the streak in Hungary when he managed just ninth. By this time, however, Verstappen had won six races on his way to a record-breaking 10 in a row.
The Qatar Grand Prix was the breaking point, with Perez finishing 10th and 80 seconds behind Verstappen. He then returned to the team's headquarters and spent three days in the simulator and brainstorming with his engineers.
Perez: I cannot be this bad
Asked by Motorsport.com on why it took him until Qatar to take action, Perez said: "Because Qatar was really the worst weekend I remember in a while, probably my worst weekend ever in the sport.
"It was such a bad weekend that I really felt like: 'I cannot be this bad, there's something that's going on.'
"When you have these back-to-back races, I feel like sometimes there is not enough time to really go through it all. So, I felt like we really had to take a bit of time to make sure that we understood which way we were going.
"Obviously, we had a deficit within the car setup that we were playing around [with] weekend by weekend and we were just not able to progress through it.
"But once we managed to get on top of that, we understood a lot of things that we were trying to compensate for. And that just basically meant that we were not just not doing things right.
"I think that has been really, really good on our side. I mean, it was bad that it happened but in a way, it was really good because it really strengthened our team quite a lot."
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