Red Bull: Perez 'taking longer' to adapt to RB20 behaviour

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Sergio Perez typically takes longer than Max Verstappen to adapt to a troubled car, but the Mexican is expected to bounce back next week in Barcelona.

The reigning world champions encountered a hurdle last month in Monaco, where the street circuit’s twists and turns highlighted a chink in the RB20’s armor – its handling over kerbs and bumps.

While less pronounced, the issue seemed to persist at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal last weekend. Despite Max Verstappen securing his 60th career victory, the team is still grappling with this underlying concern.

In Canada, Perez’s first misstep occurred in qualifying when he was unable to get his car up to speed in Q1, which left him a lowly 16th on Sunday’s grid.

Progress was hard to come by in the race for the Mexican who eventually managed to move up to P13 before spinning on a patch of wet tarmac at Turn 6, a mishap that damaged his car’s rear wing and signaled his retirement, his second DNF in succession.

“Checo just needs to forget Canada 2024 and turn up in Barcelona and bounce back,” Horner said, quoted by RACER.

“We know that he’s very capable of doing that and I’m sure he’ll come back fighting hard in Barcelona. We were lucky that Ferrari didn’t score any points – they could have taken a lot of points out of us in the constructors’ – so we need him up there scoring as he was in the first four races.

“I think it was a combination of factors,” added the Red Bull chief, commenting on Perez’s plight.

“We had an issue in qualifying that contributed a little to it, and plenty for him and the team to look at to get him back into that window as we head back to Europe.

“I think he obviously struggles with when the car isn’t behaving well, he struggles more to adapt. It perhaps takes him longer, and not having the running on Friday you end up on the back foot.

“So I think that’s something we’re looking at collectively with him to say ‘OK let’s come back strong in Barcelona.’”

A quick fix to the RB20’s handling issues, which are rooted in the car’s aerodynamic design that requires very stiff suspension settings, is unlikely.

But every step forward will unlock more performance from Red Bull’s contender insists Horner.

“All of it has to work in tandem, so of course you’re pushing the aerodynamic platform of the car but you want the car to ride curbs,” he said.

“What was encouraging was our Sector 3 was competitive. Even with the stiffness of the car rattling over that last chicane, if you look throughout the running we were competitive there.

“Despite it being uncomfortable, we’ve managed to be quick enough. I think there’s genuine performance there. If we can unlock that, then we’ll see it free up lap time.”

Development is still in full swing at Red Bull which means upgrades will be implemented in upcoming events.

“It’s all about iterations and of course you have to look very carefully where you bring your upgrades in through the year,” Horner said.

“We’re close to the top of the curve, so you get into a law of diminishing returns, but there will be subtle upgrades over the summer months… It’s a ‘possible.'”

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