Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was laudatory of Sergio Perez’s progress after last weekend’s Portuguese GP, noting that the Mexican’s performance is slowly but surely “coming together”.
Perez’s debut with Red Bull in Bahrain was marked by a charge from the back of the field, after a formation lap power failure, that put him among the top five at the checkered flag. But at Imola, where he qualified P2, a costly spin crushed his chances of a points finish.
At Portimão, from P4 on the grid, Perez lost a spot to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz at the start and then fought with McLaren’s Lando Norris before he stabilized his position in fourth where he concluded his afternoon.
Although the Mexican wasn’t all that happy with his result, he insisted the mileage had been another good boost to his experience.
“It was positive to get those kilometres on my own, feeling the car, because the way I have to drive this car in a long run and looking after the tyres is very different to what I’m used to,” Perez explained.
“In that regard, it is a positive day. Hopefully we can be back to top form and really be in the mix with the leaders, it’s where we should be.
“Hopefully we can back to that level, but it is important every weekend to make progress.”
And Horner believes his new driver is indeed improving with each outing onboard Red Bull’s RB16B.
“He’s getting there,” he said. “[Portimao’s] been really difficult because of the wind, but you can see the race is coming together for him when he’s in clean air.
“He managed to get past Norris – who passed him fully off the track, again another track limits inconsistency – and yeah, once he was in clean air, he was doing the same lap times as the leaders and at some points was setting the fastest laps.
“It’s really coming together with him. I’m happy with the progress he is making, and with more time and experience everything just comes together for him.”
- F1i’s Driver Ratings for the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix
Ahead of the start of the season, Perez reckoned that he would need “five proper races” to understand and get comfortable with his new mount. His adaptation period is therefore still ongoing.
“I’m in a state of adaptation I’d say,” he said. “I don’t know the car in race conditions so I’m not able to give too much information just yet on things we should be trying.
“I’m in that process of adaptation, understanding with the team, understanding the car, before I can really take the team into different directions.
“The team is pretty solid, they’ve done an incredible job in these first races, so it’s me that I need to get on top of the car first and that’s coming.”
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