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Perez left ‘very concerned’ by lack of pace in Canada as he falls further off the championship lead

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MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 16: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in

Sergio Perez knew he was in for a long afternoon in Montreal, after a poor qualifying yielded just 12th on the grid. The Mexican opted to start on the hard compound tyre in a bid to overcut the midfield in the first stint, and coming home sixth he could have been satisfied with his recovery.

Instead, he was left confused, bemoaning a lack of pace that he “couldn’t understand.” He wasn’t able to put any pressure on the two Ferrari cars immediately ahead, never getting close enough to even try a move in the final stint despite being on the quicker medium tyres to the Scuderia’s hard compound.

While the timing of the Safety Car didn’t help his strategy, there was more going on than just bad luck on Sunday.

FACTS AND STATS: Red Bull match Mercedes’ best-ever season start as Hamilton takes 10th Montreal podium

"Today was a bit of a surprise, we just didn’t have the pace. It was looking good on the hard tyre initially but once the Safety Car came in, I couldn’t recover the grip on that tyre and we didn’t have the pace on the medium,” he said.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 18: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on

Perez couldn't climb back through the field as easily as expected in Montreal

“It is important we take time to understand the weekend because this race, in particular, has been poor in pace and we need to get on top of it. I have the confidence in myself and know what I can do but today we were not good.

"Right now, I am more concerned about my drop in performance than my place in the championship because the pace is just not there.”

Having missed Q3 at three consecutive races, Perez now hasn’t finished on the podium since Miami – while by contrast, his team mate has managed an impeccable run of four straight victories. It’s been emphatic from Verstappen, the Dutchman’s ruthlessness highlighting Perez’s struggles.

READ MORE: Verstappen hails ‘incredible’ milestone as he helps Red Bull hit a century of F1 wins

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 17: 12th placed qualifier Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing

Perez is short of answers at the moment as to where his form has gone

“You never have no pressure on you, it has been a difficult period but I am here to perform and I need to do that in the next few races,” said Perez, who enjoyed early victories in Jeddah and Baku in the season.

Team boss Christian Horner echoed that sentiment, admitting his charge had had a “fairly tough race” but that he would be “looking at ways to improve on his performance”.

READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from the Canadian Grand Prix — Who made all the right moves in Montreal?

The gap in the championship is now out to 69 points, with Verstappen able to retire at two races and still retain his lead. The problems for Perez are coming from behind as well as in front, with Fernando Alonso’s consistency and Lewis Hamilton’s improvement meaning those two are now very much in the fight for second in the standings – with Alonso just nine points behind the Mexican, with Hamilton 24 points adrift.

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