Sergio Perez rescued Red Bull by claiming pole position for the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP after Max Verstappen failed to get out of Q2.
Red Bull looked to be odds on favorites to lock out the front row at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit throughout the race weekend. Their plan was upended by a driveshaft problem on Max Verstappen's RB19 midway through Q2 that forced the Dutchman out of the session altogether.
Sergio Perez shouldered all the responsibility for Red Bull in Q3 and came in clutch with a rapid lap to take only the second pole position of his F1 career, beating out Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso in the process.
The Mexican described the session as a 'tricky' one in his parc-ferme interview with Khalil Beschir for Sky Sports and F1 TV. Perez said:
"It was tricky. It was tricky that Q3, especially after not getting that second lap. That Q1 was quite good it was quite clean, really clean. Nailing that lap, you really feel the Formula 1 cars coming alive in this place and just maximizing that lap was very important because of the issue we had into the final run, so it was really important as the track was improving."
The 33-year-old was then asked to comment on Max Verstappen's misfortunes. Sergio Perez added:
"It's a shame. Max (Verstappen) has been really strong the whole weekend. So, hopefully tomorrow we can have both cars up there. As you never know with these cars, you know reliability issues can hit you at any time."
Red Bull have already confirmed that Sergio Perez has taken a second energy store and control electronics, along with a new gearbox case and cassette, and a new gearbox driveline, gearchange components, and auxiliary components during the race weekend in Jeddah as a precautionary measure.
Red Bull RB19 well suited to both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, claims Dr Helmut Marko
Red Bull's new RB19 has been developed to suit both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, according to the team's advisor Dr. Helmut Marko. The RB19 already has one race win to its name, but it still has a long way to go to fill the void left by its predecessor, the RB18, which won 17 out of 22 races in 2022.
Dr. Marko feels this time around, the factory back in Milton-Keynes has developed a car that can extract the best out of both Verstappen and Perez.
In an interview with Sky Sports Germany, the veteran Austrian said:
"We had a car last year that 'Checo' (Sergio Perez) did very well with at the beginning, and after it was developed further, Max (Verstappen) had been happier and happier."
"The difference is Max loves a strong front end, really biting. Checo is a little different. He wants a more docile car. We seem to have found a solution here now that lets both drivers play out their qualities."
With Sergio Perez on pole for the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP, it will be the perfect opportunity for the Mexican driver to show just how comfortable he is in the RB19 as Red Bull look to start the season with back-to-back wins.