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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Sainz expecting Perez to still give Red Bull Spanish GP 1-2 despite starting 11th

Carlos Sainz still expects Sergio Perez to give Red Bull a 1-2 in Formula 1’s 2023 Spanish Grand Prix, despite the Mexican starting 11th – nine places behind the Ferrari driver.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Sainz ended up as Max Verstappen’s closest challenger for pole position in qualifying at Barcelona on Saturday, where Perez was eliminated in Q2 in the second Red Bull.

Perez could not match Verstappen’s pace or confidence on the slippery track surface – doused in rain during FP3 and still greasy when Q1 got going amid spots of rain falling at the southern end of the circuit.

When Perez had a trip through the Turn 5 exit gravel late in Q2, he could not rally to progress to Q3, where a final flier elevated Sainz to second just as Verstappen was abandoning his last lap, as he and Red Bull knew pole was already secure.

But Sainz fears Red Bull’s pace in a dry Barcelona race is so superior, Perez could yet charge through the pack.

Verstappen was clocked lapping an average of 0.539s quicker than Ferrari’s best each time on a high-fuel run late in FP2, with one Autosport source suggesting the Dutchman alone could pull off a one-stop strategy with that advantage.

“It will be still tough to get [second in the race],” Sainz told the post-qualifying press conference. “Especially with Checo coming from P11 with a Red Bull.

“I think as soon as I get back to the engineers, they will tell me that the simulation suggests that the Red Bulls should still finish ahead of us.

“And then it will be a fight with Lando [Norris, third in qualifying for McLaren] and the Mercedes.

“The Astons [Martins too]. I don’t know exactly what happened to them today, but they normally have really good race pace.

“So, I still think it’s going to be a tough call to get a podium tomorrow.

“We’ve put ourselves in the best possible position to achieve that, but I still think it’s going to be a good fight for me tomorrow.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Barcelona has one of the longest runs to a first corner on the F1 calendar and both Verstappen and Perez have lost early race leads from pole to fast-starting rivals so far in 2023.

When asked about the possibility of attacking Verstappen into Turn 1 at the start, Sainz replied: “I wouldn’t have minded if Lewis [Hamilton, fifth for Mercedes in qualifying] or Lando had outqualified me because here the clean side is a bit better for the start.

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“At the same time, it’s also all about the tow and how lucky you get if you can get a tow or a run down to Turn 1.

“I don’t know. Obviously I will try to give it all in Turn 1. And go and get that podium and if Max does something strange, get a win.”

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