Sergio Perez believes that a “compromised” car balance disguised the “good progress” he made across Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix weekend.

Perez rued getting caught on the wrong side of “tight margins” in qualifying that left him ninth on the grid, despite only ending up 0.450s away from the pole position time.

Although he was unable to make up ground away from the line, Perez soon picked up places on Esteban Ocon and Oscar Piastri before also undercutting George Russell.

The Mexican then took advantage of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc struggling extensively on a one-stop strategy in the closing stages to move into fifth by the chequered flag.

Perez, who was promoted to fourth when Lewis Hamilton was disqualified post-race, says only having one hour of practice time prevented him from unlocking the full potential of the RB19, which won the race in the hands of team-mate Max Verstappen.

“Overall, we had good pace but the Hard tyre was not good enough to make more progress,” Perez reviewed. “So, something we [have] got to look at.

“We know we compromised quite a bit our balance for the weekend, given that it was only one practice and this is what happens on a Sprint event. You either go wrong direction or right direction, but I expected it to be a lot better.”

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner revealed ahead of the weekend’s action that Perez had spent three days in the simulator in a bid to overcome his recent troubles.

Questioned if he had been able to successfully translate his extensive work conducted in the simulator to the racetrack, Perez said: “Yes, I think we made some very good progress. Especially considering how much we compromised the car.

“We believe that we left a lot of performance in there, so hopefully we are able to prove that come Mexico next week.”

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing on the grid. 22.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race Day.

Perez had only accumulated five points in the three rounds before the US GP, including a contact-induced retirement in Japan and a penalty-inflicted run to 10th in Qatar.

The 33-year-old admits that he was “lost” during that torrid run, adding that returning to basics at the track was every bit as important as his raft of simulator work.

“We were so lost that we were having some difficulties with our preparation on the simulator, compared to what we were experiencing on track,” he explained.

“And just on track, taking the wrong directions. And then that comprising massively our weekends. So, I think we needed to step back a bit and start all over again.”

Next time out, Perez will return home as F1 heads to Mexico, where he has managed podiums in his only two visits with Red Bull.

Perez is optimistic about being able to challenge for a position on the rostrum, having conceded that he was unable to showcase his ultimate speed last weekend.

“I think we didn’t get to show our full pace this weekend, so I really believe that we should be a lot stronger now than we were today,” Perez underlined.

Hamilton had capitalised on Perez’s latest alarming slump to close to within 30 points of the Red Bull driver in the battle for second position in the Drivers’ Championship.

The margin between the two was whittled down to only 19 points after Hamilton followed up second place in the Sprint race with the runners-up spot in the grand prix.

However, Hamilton’s disqualification from Sunday’s classification has provided Perez with a comfortable 39-point advantage going into the remaining four rounds of the season.

Prior to the news that Hamilton had lost his podium, Perez conceded that he needed to improve to avoid losing second place in the standings for the second consecutive year.

“I’m just doing my best and we will see where we end up,” Perez commented.

“I need to make sure that we are able to improve up a gear and yeah, they are improving the car, and we can see they are getting stronger and stronger every race. So, it will be a good fight which will be great the next four races.”

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