Red Bull says Sergio Perez’s race pace is “very, very strong” but that more work is needed in order to extract the maximum in qualifying trim.
Perez, whose front-row start in Imola was the first of his near-200-race Formula 1 career, has so far trailed team-mate Max Verstappen in all other qualifying sessions.
Perez was left only ninth on the grid in Monaco, seven places behind Verstappen, though utilised the overcut to rise to fourth in a race that was won by his team-mate.
“I think he’s finding Saturdays harder than Sundays,” conceded Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
“His race pace has generally been very, very strong. I think Saturdays are still… we need to work with him, to help him, to get comfortable. That will come.
“You can see that the majority of drivers, probably with the exception of Carlos [Sainz], that have changed teams for this year, it’s taken them a while to get up to speed.
“I think the tyres are more tricky as well this year, which throws in another dynamic. He’s getting there and a performance like [Sunday] only helps that.”
Perez explained that his side of the garage “took the wrong direction [in qualifying]” and “didn’t have the car as good as Max did, but hopefully in the coming races we are able to get there.
“It’s only the fifth race of the season, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.
“I think when I’m comfortable with the car we’re going to see very big steps and adding a lot of points for the team.”