Sergio Perez lamented struggles with the balance of his Red Bull car placing him on the “wrong side” of tight margins in qualifying for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Perez is aiming to rebound from a torrid run that has seen him score only five points across the previous three race weekends.

Despite avoiding an early elimination for the ninth time this season, Perez could only muster the ninth-fastest time in Friday’s qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas.

But having wound up only 0.450s away from Charles Leclerc’s pole position time, Perez insists that he was unfortunate to end up among the lower reaches of the top 10.

The Mexican revealed that some alterations to his RB19 ultimately hampered his competitiveness through the range of corners present at the Austin track.

Reflecting on his qualifying outing, Perez summarised: “It wasn’t a straightforward one. I was struggling with the balance from low speed to high speed, especially in the low speed. We did some changes that probably didn’t help us as much.

“The margins were so tight today that a tenth will have looked so much different. But we are on the wrong side of it. Hopefully tomorrow we can have a better [Sprint] Shootout and get some points.”

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19. 20.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Qualifying Day

The intervention of a Sprint weekend mandates that only minute changes can be made to a competitor’s set-up beyond the end of the sole practice session available.

Perez accepts that’s the risk the revised format provides, with the 33-year-old anticipating a shift in the wind direction to also have a profound impact come Saturday.

“Yeah, that is what happens in these Sprint weekends, unfortunately,” he rued.

“But it’s just part of the challenges, so we’ll see what we are able to do come tomorrow to see also the wind, we are expecting it to change quite a bit.”

Perez will line up six places behind Lewis Hamilton, who has taken advantage of the Red Bull driver’s slump to close to within 30 points of second place in the standings.

The seven-time World Champion profited from Max Verstappen, Perez’s Red Bull team-mate, getting his final lap time deleted for exceeding track limits, dropping him to sixth.

Verstappen’s best run would have been enough to nab pole by 0.005s, but the stewards noted that he ventured outside of the confines of the track at Turn 19.

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