Sergio Perez takes aim at Red Bull after fastest lap fiasco

Sergio Perez has called for Red Bull to review its procedures after losing the race's fastest lap to Max Verstappen after the Dutchman was given the push-ahead

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Sergio Perez has called on Red Bull to review its fastest lap procedures after losing the fastest lap of the race to Max Verstappen in the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

In the race’s closing salvo, Verstappen was told he could push for the fastest lap, whilst Perez was told to stick with his current pace.

It meant Verstappen could snatch the fastest lap of the race to hold onto the championship lead by one point and reignited tension inside Red Bull.

“I asked two laps from the end, [and] while they were telling us, they told me to keep a certain pace,” explained Perez to the media. “They told me I had the fastest lap and to keep the pace.

“So I thought the communication was the same to Max or something. We need to review because I certainly got different information, and I just couldn’t push it there.”

Sense of dread when safety car came out

Sergio Perez of Red Bull during 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

For the first quarter of the race, Perez was in a comfortable position when Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin brought the safety car out after suffering a technical failure on Lap 16. 

However, unlike last year when Perez lost a potential because of the safety car, he held onto his lead to take his fifth F1 career victory from Verstappen and Fernando Alonso. 

“Once I got past Fernando, I could do my own race,” said Perez. “But when the Safety Car came out, it reminded me [of] last year, and I was like, ‘not again’. 

“Luckily, we didn’t pit, so it was a new race after the Safety Car. Max came back, and towards the end, [we were] just making sure we kept that healthy gap between [us].”

Enjoyment of easy win

Sergio Perez of Red Bull during 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Whilst Perez continued out in front, Verstappen tried in vain to close the gap, only for both drivers to suffer technical issues which jeopardised Red Bull’s 1-2. 

Once the technical problems were resolved, both drivers continued to push, with Verstappen securing the fastest lap on his final tour.

“I did enjoy the race, to be honest,” said Perez. “Especially at the end, just pushing each other with the lap times, knowing he went a tenth faster, a tenth slower. It was pretty intense.

“[I] think we did a great job. I don’t know if it’s my best weekend so far with the team, but I’m sure Melbourne will be even better.”

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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