Sergio Perez to start Australian Grand Prix in last place after qualifying nightmare
Sergio Perez will start dead-last in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after a Saturday to forget at Albert Park.
The Red Bull driver, who won two weeks ago in Saudi Arabia, was constantly lurching off the track in third practice earlier on Saturday.
But it got even worse for the Mexican in qualifying as he locked up at turn three in the first few minutes of Q1 in Melbourne.
Perez beached his car in the gravel and was unable to spin his Red Bull out of the trap and, having not set a flying lap, will start P20 for Sunday’s race.
“We need to sort that issue man, it’s the same f****** issue man,” he exclaimed over team radio to his race engineer, as his team-mate and Championship rival Max Verstappen claimed pole position.
Perez refused to go into detail as to what caused the issues on Saturday, speaking after qualifying.
“Really bad, terrible day,” he told Sky F1. “In FP3 we had this issue, thought we fixed it, but we didn’t. Hope for race day we will fix it, otherwise it’s difficult to fix it.
“I won’t give too much detail. We need to overcome this problem and fix it for tomorrow.
Asked what he can do from P20 tomorrow, the Mexican said: “Minimise the damage.”
Red Flag! 🚩
Sergio Perez's day goes from bad to worse! 😲 pic.twitter.com/O0dNO0DRfu
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) April 1, 2023
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner added: “He’s [Checo] had a horrible day. The plan in P3 was to run differently to Max. He never recovered from P3.
“To lock up and go off, we’re checking all the data to see if there’s something in the engine management - going through all that data as we speak. Trying to ensure if there is something it’s not there tomorrow.”
“Max was up to P2 halfway into the race in Jeddah - stay out of trouble. Checo has two hard tyres tomorrow. If that proves to be the more dominant tyre, that could prove to be crucial in the race tomorrow.”
Perez is currently second in the Driver Standings, one point off Verstappen, but has a job on to finish high up the order at Albert Park.
Verstappen will start alongside Mercedes’ George Russell on the front row, with Lewis Hamilton starting in third.