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Perez: Keeping up with car development key to new Red Bull F1 deal

Sergio Perez has said being able to "progress with the car" will be key to earning a new Red Bull Formula 1 deal next year.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Perez finished second in the 2023 championship on just under half the number of points of team-mate Max Verstappen, who took an unprecedented 19 race wins as Red Bull enjoyed total dominance with its RB19.

Following a bright start in which he won two races and ran Verstappen close in the standings, the wheels fell off Perez's championship challenge by June and his persistent struggles caused increased speculation over his future with the team, with his current deal expiring after 2024.

Perez, who candidly opened up to Autosport about the challenges he faced in 2023, thinks the key to securing a new contract is to buck the trend of failing to adjust to Red Bull's car upgrades during the year.

"I want to be able to hit consistency, to build a platform," he said.

"What we lacked this year is progress. I started the year really highly, on par with Max. But I was just not able to evolve through the season. If anything, I went backwards at times. So, that's probably my main priority, to be able to progress through the season."

A common theme for Perez during his three-year Red Bull tenure has been his struggles to adapt his driving style to the unique demands of how the Red Bull cars are developed, which Verstappen is more in tune with.

Perez would often start race weekends on the back foot after failing to find a suitable set-up direction in Friday practice, which left him with a mountain to climb to get near the potential of the car.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

In 2023 those problems began in Barcelona, which was the first of five weekends in which Perez failed to qualify in Q3 with the field's dominant car.

When asked about what happened with the RB19 from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards that made it so difficult for him, he replied: "I felt like the car was different and I had to think a lot more on how I was driving than ever before.

"So, that was a bit of a turnaround of the year.

"We started the year really strongly the first five, six races, but then we couldn't progress together with the car. I think that's something I lacked this year that I want to improve massively into next year.

"These problems really make me understand a lot more how I was setting up the car, which direction I need to go when I get issues. So I think it's something definitely that's going to make us stronger coming next year."

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Perez made a first step with a three-day brainstorming session in Milton Keynes after a disastrous Qatar Grand Prix weekend, but thinks there are more gains to be made during the off-season.

"During the winter we're going to take the time with the engineers to go through things," he explained. "Other than that we're just going to focus massively on making sure we are able to progress with it through the season. I think that's the main thing.

"If you think about how we started the year, if we were able to keep progressing through the year, we would have had a much stronger season."

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