Salem Radio Network News Saturday, June 3, 2023

Sports

Motor racing-Perez laments ‘terrible’ day after qualifying shocker

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Red Bull driver Sergio Perez bemoaned a terrible day at the Australian Grand Prix after a slide into gravel in qualifying left him back of the grid for Sunday’s race and dented his championship hopes.

The Mexican, one point shy of team mate Max Verstappen in the Formula One title race, locked up at turn three at Albert Park and beached himself in the gravel on his first out lap in the opening session of qualifying.

Verstappen, meanwhile, took pole position, his first in Australia and second in the season’s first three races.

“It was really bad, it was a terrible day. Already in FP3 we had this issue,” Perez told reporters.

“We thought we fixed it but obviously we didn’t so I really hope that come tomorrow (on) race day we are able to fix it because otherwise it will be really difficult to race like this.”

The qualifying skid followed trouble through free practice earlier on Saturday as Perez repeatedly slid off track.

He was confined to the team’s garage for much of the practice session as engineers worked on his car.

It was a huge come-down for Perez, who won from pole at the last race in Jeddah and came to Albert Park declaring he could challenge Verstappen for the championship.

Perez declined to talk about his car’s problem but team boss Christian Horner suggested there might be an issue with the car’s engine management software.

“It was just a horrible (practice) session,” Horner told Sky TV.

“That first run on the soft tyres nothing went right for him and then you end up on the back foot and pushing too hard and then you try and nick a bit in the braking zones and so on.

“Going into qualifying it wasn’t the ideal build-up for him.

“Confidence is so crucial and to that point this week and yesterday he looked very, very strong.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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