Sergio Perez believes that the reasons for falling off the pace to Max Verstappen lie in the development of the Red Bull car.
Championship leader Max Verstappen took a convincing victory at the previous race in Belgium where, despite starting from P13, he managed to lead a Red Bull one-two and beat teammate Sergio Perez by over 17 seconds.
Perez had started on the front row of the grid but, after a poor getaway, spent much of the race trailing Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, before eventually claiming second place.
The Mexican driver was also beaten by Verstappen in qualifying by almost eight tenths of a second.
Reflecting on his Belgian GP weekend, Perez believed that the differences between himself and Verstappen were "amplified" by his discomfort with the car's setup.
"He was super, super fast that last weekend. Really, really strong," Perez conceded to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I've been on the sim this week trying to understand everything, and hopefully I'm able to get another gear on my side.
"I think I was just not comfortable with the car. I didn't get the maximum out of the car, and Max did, and probably that's why the difference was was amplified. But that's it."
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Perez feeling 'less comfortable' with the RB18
After some strong performances at the start of the season, Perez has suffered from a drop in results in the second half of the year.
Earlier in the year, he secured his first F1 Pole Position at the Saudi Arabian GP, before taking a remarkable Monaco GP win.
Despite retiring in two of the last six races, he has only managed two podium finishes in the other four, with Verstappen taking four wins and one other podium in that time.
With Verstappen winning the last three races, Perez has finished a distant fourth, fifth and second in those events.
When asked why he believed there had been a performance drop-off in recent events, the Mexican believed the handling of the car was becoming more unnatural to him.
"I think in the beginning [of the season], I was more comfortable," commented Perez.
"I would feel like every time I came to a weekend in FP1 I was already easily happy with the balance, and things were coming naturally.
"As the season progressed, I feel like it has become harder and harder.
"Every weekend, I have to really go deep into the analysis, and I'm not as comfortable as I was with the car."
Perez was then asked if the development of the car has swung in favour of Verstappen.
"It's a little bit in that direction," added Perez.
"Obviously the car has developed and has gone in a certain direction, but right now my main focus is to make sure I'm able to get on top of the car."
F1 podcast: Could Honda stay with Red Bull beyond 2025?
As Max Verstappen took a dominant win in the Belgian Grand Prix, plenty of attention remains on off-track matters, with Audi confirming their 2026 arrival into F1, and question marks remaining over the involvement of Porsche and Honda.
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the key topics from the Belgium Grand Prix.