Sergio Perez says he “can’t afford” another non-point finish during the 2023 Formula 1 season as he seeks to challenge for his first title this year.
After crashing out of qualifying in the early stages of Q1, Perez started the race in 20th and stated prior to lights out that he expected his race to be a ‘nightmare’.
An incident-filled race for Perez – which involved collisions with Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen and George Russell – saw him rise to just 16th and his deficit to championship leader Verstappen has now grown to 39 points.
“We paid the price for my mistake [in qualifying] and that’s been very costly,” Perez said following the race. “I just have to apologise to my whole team because it is unacceptable to have this kind of mistake.
“I have to move on and learn from it. I cannot afford another zero [points weekend] in the championship.”
Perez started the race on the <edium compound which Red Bull opted to ditch at the end of the opening lap in favour of the Hard tyres in an attempt to make ground through strategy.
However, Perez quickly caught the rest of the field which put an end to his hopes of making up positions.
“It was going really well. Unfortunately I hit the traffic really early and that put us back in our original position.
“Then the rain came and I was one of the last to pit. Then I clipped the wall and it was all a mess.
“I broke my front wing with Magnussen who just broke out of the chicane and it went bad.
“When you are in those positions, you always have to risk a lot.”
A point-less weekend for Perez also means that Fernando Alonso, who finished second, closes the gap to Perez in the championship.
Alonso now sits 12 points behind Perez in the standings having finished on the podium in five of the opening six rounds, and will be keen to continue that run at his home race in Spain next weekend.