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Ferrari “Absolutely” Would Have Won Australian GP Regardless of Verstappen Retirement, According to Perez

“We were struggling already from Friday and we never got on top of the management of tyres," Perez explained. ...

Ferrari managed a stunning 1-2 finish at the Australian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen was forced to retire due to a severe brake issue. While it is difficult to say whether Max would have won had he not encountered this issue, his teammate, Sergio Perez, believes it wouldn’t have mattered, such was the pace of the Ferraris in Melbourne.

“As a team we just didn’t have the pace today,” Perez told Sky. “We didn’t have the pace throughout the weekend.

“We were struggling already from Friday and we never got on top of the management of tyres. I think we just have to understand and make sure we are able to improve.

“We already saw last year in a track like this, for example Vegas, a front-limited track, Ferrari was a lot stronger than us. So we just couldn’t look after the front tyres.”

When asked if Ferrari would have won if Verstappen hadn’t retired, Perez was adamant, “Absolutely, yes.”

While Perez may have outqualified most of Red Bull’s rivals, come race day, their pace just wasn’t there.

“We could see that Ferrari and McLaren were a step ahead of us. I think we just couldn’t get the balance in the window. There’s some work to do for the coming races. It was a very unique Tarmac and just throughout the weekend we were not able to manage the best possible grip level.”

Horner: “He Picked Up a Bit of Damage”

While that may all be true, team principal, Christian Horner, revealed that Checo’s RB20 had suffered some floor damage thanks to a tear-off visor wedging itself underneath the car.

“He’s probably not aware of it, but he picked up a bit of damage whilst he was padding Fernando [Alonso],” Horner said. “He lost a significant amount of downforce from the floor of the car. So we just need to get the car back to understand exactly what’s caused that. As soon as you get that, then your tyre deg gets worse.”

Marko: “Checo… Went Backwards”

Helmut Marko, for his part considered Max absolutely capable of taking home the win because of his ability to keep up the pace despite the brake issue but thought Checo “went backwards.”

“Why?” Marko said. “We were at times two seconds slow than the race leader. We need to start looking at that. Maybe the tyre pressure was too high for these conditions or we went the wrong way with set-up because he was two seconds slower… Checo’s race result does give us food for thought.”

Was Checo’s damage enough to cause such a deficit? Or was it merely the track conditions weren’t suited to the RB20? It is difficult to say, but we will surely find answers over the next few races.

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