Formula One

Perez questions Red Bull ‘fastest lap’ communication


Sergio Perez was left confused at the end of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix by Red Bull’s in-race communication regarding the quest for the fastest lap.

Perez conquered his fifth career win in F1 with a flawless performance in Jeddah, the Mexican upholding his reputation as one of the sport’s best street fighters.

In the closing stages of the race, with Perez leading proceedings and Max Verstappen recovering from P15 on the grid to assume the runner-up spot behind his teammate, both drivers were told to stabilize their pace as each had hinted at reliability concerns on their car.

Verstappen reported a strange noise and vibration that he associated with another potential driveshaft issue while Perez noted a brake pedal “going long” on his RB19.

While Perez complied with the team’s 1m33.0s lap time target, there was no radio response from Verstappen who continued to light up the timing screens with purple sectors as he lapped in the mid 1m32s.

Perez queried his race engineer Hugh Bird on Verstappen’s pace.

“What time is Max doing?” Perez asked. “32.6,” replied Bird.

“So why are you telling me to do 33.0?” Perez replied, before adding: “We are pushing without a reason.”

With Red Bull’s concerns eventually alleviated by the data, Perez was told that he was “free to push” once again, which further confused the Mexican who at that point held the fastest lap and the bonus point that would allow him to take the lead in the championship’s standings.

Perez was therefore surprised to learn at the end of the race that Verstappen had ultimately snatched the fastest lap.

“Two laps from the end, they told me to keep a certain pace, they told me I had the fastest lap and to keep the pace, a certain pace,” Perez said in the media conference.

“I thought the communication was the same to Max, so it’s something we need to review. Because I certainly got different information, and I just couldn’t push there in the end.”

Verstappen subsequently provided his point of view on the team’s communication.

“With a few laps to go I asked what the fastest lap was,” he said. “We were first of all free to race – and of course we had a target laptime to the end, but you know, there’s a point on the line.

“It was the same also in Bahrain, it got asked. Especially when it’s just between the two cars, I think it’s quite normal that you ask for what the fastest lap is.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner confirmed that once the data had eased the team’s reliability concerns as reported by its drivers, Perez and Verstappen were free to race.

“Both drivers had the info of Checo had the fastest lap at that point, he asked what it was, so it was obvious why he was asking, he knew that Max was going to have a crack at it.

“And Checo gave it up after the first couple of turns, he was already a tenth and a half down and then you saw him back out of it.

“Inevitably, as Max said on the radio, the point for the fastest lap meant a great deal to him. And there was no reason for us not to let either he or Checo have a crack at it.”

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Perez questions Red Bull ‘fastest lap’ communication

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