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With the pressure increasing, Sergio Perez made a big mistake just three minutes into the first free practice session at the Hungaroring.
Perez is coming off the back of five Grands Prix where he has failed to reach Q3 and he has only stepped on the podium once since the race at Miami back in May. As a result, he has fallen 99 points behind his teammate and championship leader, Max Verstappen, who has won all races in that timespan.
This slump in performance has led to rumours regarding the Mexican’s place at Red Bull in regard to next season. These rumours have only been boosted since it was announced that Daniel Ricciardo would return to Formula 1 by replacing Nyck de Vries at Alpha Tauri. Perez claimed he was not fazed by the gossip.
On Friday, Perez crashed very early in the first practice session, in fact just five corners into his first flying lap. On the entry to Turn 5, the Red Bull driver clipped the grass, thus losing all grip and control of his car.
It led to a hefty impact with the barriers, which put a premature end to his session.
— F1 Live Clips (@f1liveclip) July 21, 2023
Perez was straight on the radio after his error and had this to say:
I cannot believe this.
I clipped the grass I think, on braking. I just lost it.
The crash led to a ten-minute interruption of the session, as the red flags came out. Seconds after the action resumed, rain started falling on the track, so drivers returned to their garages.
This is a positive sign for Perez, as it means he will not miss a lot of practice time, in comparison to the rest of the field. In fact, no driver recorded a proper lap time for much of the session, although a few headed out for some laps in the wet towards the end. However, it will undoubtedly place a big dent in his confidence moving forward in the weekend.
Of course, a big worry for both the team and the driver is the fact that the team brought upgrades to the RB19 at Hungaroring. It is currently not known whether the team has brought enough spare parts to repair the car with the upgrades, or whether he will have to revert to an older specification for the rest of the weekend.
The team brought five new parts for both its drivers, namely new front and rear brake ducts, a new sidepod inlet, a wider sidepod and a new outline in the floor edge of the car. A lot of those parts were damaged, especially on the left side of the car, and whether there are enough spare parts remains to be seen.
Of course, the car was then moved behind the barriers with the use of a crane, giving Red Bull’s rivals a brand new opportunity to spy on its car, especially when it comes to the floor area. That is one of the strongest points in Red Bull’s design and one all teams will be very keen to inspect.
That Perez crash gives us another close look at the RB19’s undercarriage 👀
— Autosport (@autosport) July 21, 2023
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