Red Bull's Sergio Perez makes honest admission after Max Verstappen retires at Australian GP - 'Absolutely'

Red Bull's Sergio Perez makes honest admission after Max Verstappen retires at Australian GP - 'Absolutely'

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Lewis Winter

By Lewis Winter

Published: 24/03/2024

- 07:30

The reigning world champion crashed out early in Melbourne on Sunday

Sergio Perez believes Ferrari would still have won the Australian Grand Prix if Max Verstappen didn't retire.

Perez's Red Bull team-mate exited the race early in Melbourne after a brake issue which saw his car catch fire.

Verstappen had picked up a third successive pole position as he aimed to continue his winning run from the back end of 2023.

But he was forced to retire after just a few laps after noticing a problem with his car, showing visible frustration when back at the paddock.

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez says Ferrari would have still won the Australian Grand Prix if Max Verstappen didn't retire

Sky Sports/Getty

Carlos Sainz took advantage of Verstappen's absence and sped to victory just a couple of weeks after having his appendix removed.

It was the first time anyone other than Verstappen had won a race since Sainz triumphed in Singapore last September.

Perez says Ferrari would still have won if Verstappen didn't retire, telling Sky Sports: "Absolutely yes."

The Mexican finished fifth, behind McLaren duo Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.

Perez admits Red Bull were not quick enough over the weekend, adding: "We just didn't have the pace unfortunately.

"I think we struggled early on. We could see Ferrari and McLaren were a step ahead of us.

"We couldn't get the balance into the window. There's some work to do for the coming races.

"It was a very unique tarmac and throughout the weekend we were not able to manage the best possible grip level."

"Just as a team we didn't have the pace throughout the weekend.

"We were struggling already from Friday and never got on top of the management of tyres. We just have to understand and improve.

"We already saw on a track like this, like Vegas, Ferrari were stronger than us and we couldn't look after our front tyres."

Team principal Christian Horner says there are 'a lot of lessons' for Red Bull to take out of the race.


Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen retired early from the Australian Grand Prix


Horner said: "Well yeah it's actually two years since our last DNF for a mechanical failure which was actually here back in 2022.

"It's a brake issue and it looked like the brake was bound on from pretty much the start of the race which is why Max described it as like having a handbrake and caused him to have a couple of moments.

"And then of course the heat was building and building and building and the result was a fire.

"Obviously we've got all the bits back now and going through the damage. We will go through it and understand exactly what's caused it.

Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz won his first race of the season at the Australian Grand Prix


"Obviously a driver is always going to be frustrated when they get out of the car from a retirement. He's been very gracious with the team.

"That DNF hurts everyone in the same way. It's a matter of learning from it. We've had two years of no mechanical DNFs, which is remarkable.

"So it's a matter of understanding what caused it, learning from it and moving on.

"Remarkable after three races he's still leading the World Championship even with that DNF. As I say, a lot of lessons to take out of today."

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