Sergio Perez was surprisingly upbeat after crashing out of FP2 for the 2023 Italian Grand Prix, insisting it’s his best Friday in recent races and revealing his Red Bull only suffered minor damage.
Perez was ahead of teammate Max Verstappen on qualifying simulations on Monza, the Dutchman trailing by a tenth after encountering traffic as he attempted to set a fast lap, and should have more to give on Saturday.
But that deficit seemed to pale into insignificance when Perez lost control at Parabolica and hit the crash barriers rear first, seemingly damaging his wing and floor.
“It doesn’t look too bad, the damage was very small,” Perez told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com, after the session.
“I understeered off on the exit and tried to keep it nailed, I thought I had it under control, but then I just touched with the gravel and that was game over.”
Perez was two-tenths behind Carlos Sainz in FP2 who put Ferrari right in the conversation for pole position, while Lando Norris was just 0.019 seconds behind his former teammate and also looks very competitive for McLaren.
Perez ready to fight at the front in Monza
It has been nearly four months since Perez beat Verstappen in a competitive F1 session, when he outqualified his teammate at the Miami GP after the Dutchman was caught-out by an ill-timed red flag following a poor first run.
That was following his win in Azerbaijan where Perez just outperformed Verstappen in a straight fight, but the Dutchman has won every race since.
At Monza he’s gunning for a record-breaking tenth successive grand prix victory, but Perez seemed confident he’ll be able to stand in his teammate’s way.
“The positive is that the car is performing well,” Perez added. “I’m really comfortable with it and I think we are in a good position for the rest of the weekend, and I really felt that we had a very strong Friday. Definitely, this has been the best Friday in a while.
“We’ve been working really hard, I think we’ve found some positive steps in the car so hopefully we can show it down tomorrow and Sunday.”