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Sergio Perez

Perez reveals source of Red Bull rarity: 'Now you see how to motivate me'

Remarkably, it was only the third front-row lock-out from Red Bull in the last six years!

Perez Japan
To news overview © XPBimages

Sergio Perez is in the money after winning a side bet with Red Bull boss Christian Horner that has helped land the team only its third front-row lock-out over the past six years.

Perez, whose future is on the line, delivered his best qualifying performance around Suzuka to finish just 0.066s behind team-mate Max Verstappen going into the Japanese Grand Prix.

Over the team radio after coming so close to pole position, Horner light-heartedly remarked to Perez that the Mexican's second place on the grid had cost him "a few quid". It has since transpired the bet was over a front-row lock-out.

Laughing, Perez replied: “Now you see how to motivate me!", to which Horner responded: "Haha! Well, I’ve always known that!”

That resulted in Perez’s race engineer, Hugh Bird, then chipping in by stating to Perez, “It’s very nice of you to share that with me and Woody (Richard Wood, performance engineer)”, to which Perez remarked, “Absolutely! And all the boys”.

Perez no longer going round in circles

Perez's performance around the iconic Japanese circuit was a continuation of his strong start to the season in which he finished runner-up to Verstappen in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, in particular.

In the last race in Australia, the Mexican was unable to take advantage of Verstappen's early retirement after encountering issues with his RB20 that compounded a three-place grid penalty for impeding Haas' Nico Hulkenberg in Q1.

Running Verstappen so close in Japan was also in stark contrast to his performance at the track just under seven months ago when he finished a distant fifth on the grid, almost eight-tenths of a second behind the Dutchman.

Explaining his turnaround in form, Perez said: "Like Carlos [Sainz] would say, we stopped inventing!

"We were playing around with the car far too much, just going through it, and now we have a much better base. We are a lot happier, and the weekends just progress.

"When we came here last year, we were at the stage of our season where nothing was working, and when you are in that, you just go around in circles and circles.

"Then we found out in the end, towards the end of the year, that it was better to just step back and not try to chase it too much with the set-up because then you start compromising other things, and that's been the case for this year.

"So yeah, I'm a lot more comfortable, a lot happier, and the confidence is slowly coming back."

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