Sergio Perez had yet another rollercoaster season-opening race at Bahrain GP last weekend fighting his way through the pack and ending up in P5 behind McLaren driver, Lando Norris.
And most of the viewers would reckon that his race reminded them of his stellar showing at Sakhir GP last season, where he won the race from last on the grid.
However, this time around, he could manage only 10 points, which was still a decent enough position, considering the Mexican is still coming in terms with the tricky Red Bull car. And his struggles with the car were quite evident over the qualifying session.
As reported by RaceFans, Norris claimed that Perez had minor problems with his car during qualifying. Amid such issues, he managed to post a mistake-free flying lap and still failed to qualify into Q3, rather lining up P11 on the grid.
“We still finished ahead of Perez, although he had a few problems. And maybe he would have been a little bit further up,” he said.
“But we qualified ahead of him more because he didn’t make any big mistakes. He just couldn’t put it together.”
Perez suffered an engine shutdown during the warm-up lap, and it looked like his race could be over even before it started.
Thankfully, his car fired up just in time, as he started the race from the pit lane. From there on, he yet again found his way through the grid into the top 5.
However, Norris was just a bit too far, as Perez ended up P5, just over five seconds shy off the Briton.
By the time Norris saw the checkered flag, he was just nine seconds away from the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Hence, the Briton opined that McLaren are much closer to Mercedes and Red Bull this season after playing the role of a mid-field team for a while now.
“We’re close. We’re not miles away from Mercedes and Red Bull comparing to last season. I think we’ve closed the gap quite a bit and hopefully, at some tracks, we can close even more. It’s good,” he said.
Of course, Norris did evade the potential threat from AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who looked quite pacy through the weekend. Hence, there is a much bigger challenge heading McLaren’s way over the weekend in Imola.
Can they jump past the obstacles and maintain their successful run at the Emilia Romagna GP as well?