Sergio Perez retired from the Japanese Grand Prix twice, in what Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner described as a "shocker" of a race for the Mexican.
While Max Verstappen asserted his dominance from the very first lap he produced in practice, yet again Perez had no answer in the same machinery.
The errors began to unravel in qualifying, when he used an extra set of Soft tyres in Q2 that forced him to only do one run in the shootout for pole.
His lap was only good enough for fifth on the grid and put him amongst aggressive starters Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton.
Although Perez was not entirely at fault for the sandwich move into Turn 1, it was the catalyst for his series of mistakes that led to his bizarre retirement situation.
After accidentally passing Fernando Alonso under Safety Car while pitting for repairs, he followed up with a collision with Kevin Magnussen at the hairpin which broke another front wing and damaged his steering.
"It was a little bit too optimistic, probably out of frustration trying to pass Magnussen," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.
Yet the move Perez pulled off on Magnussen was not too dissimilar from the one on Alexander Albon in Singapore that earned him a time penalty, with the Williams driver claiming he pulled off the same move at Suzuka, moments before the Red Bull crashed into Magnussen.
Perez lacked confidence
It was clear that Perez was trying to force his way through the field having lost ground at the start, which could be attributed to his lack of confidence at the track.
"This is a big confidence circuit and I think where Sergio [Perez] was struggling was mainly in the high speed corners compared to Max," Horner claimed.
"You could tell [with] Max, the confidence that he had and the speed that he was able to carry through the high speed stuff was mind boggling."
It has been the trend throughout 2023: where Verstappen has excelled Perez has struggled big time. This affects his overall consistency and leads to unforced errors, which is what caused many of his early qualifying exits.
Perez is now in the position of having scored less points than Lando Norris in the last eight races, with the Briton being the second-highest points scorer since the Austrian GP.
Verstappen has effectively sealed Red Bull's Constructors' Championship on his own, while Perez has created a significant crash damage bill and put himself under pressure from Hamilton in the Drivers' Championship.
Points scored in the last eight races
Can we expect Perez to be replaced?
Perez already has his 2024 drive secured with Red Bull, but as ever a lot of driver contracts are riddled with performance targets and clauses.
The team missed out on a historic one-two in the Drivers' Championship last year, which could be attributed to their early reliability problems and the blistering form from Charles Leclerc and Ferrari.
This year they have a shot at sealing that feat for a second time, in what has arguably been the easiest run to championship success for Red Bull.
If Perez is unable to score the necessary points, he will absolutely need to make it his goal in 2024 otherwise he will risk being let go ahead of 2025.
Daniel Ricciardo has stated his intentions to make a comeback to his former team, while the young Liam Lawson has made a massive impression in just four races.
Perez earned a second chance in a top seat through his impressive drives in an inferior Racing Point. Perhaps he needs to study more about what made those come together, and work towards breaking down Verstappen instead of focusing solely on matching his pace during a weekend.