Polesitter Verstappen reported a stuck brake from the start of the Melbourne race and after the issue made him lose the lead to Sainz on lap 2, the Dutchman’s right rear brake finally gave up on lap 4, forcing him to retire.

But Ferrari’s race performance and the way it handled front tire graining, which had already looked promising in practice, has prompted Perez to say that Sainz would have beaten Verstappen the race anyway.

“Absolutely,” he replied when Sky Sports F1 asked him if Ferrari would still have triumphed without Verstappen’s issues.

“I think just as a team, we just didn’t have the peace today. We didn’t have the peace throughout the weekend.

“We were struggling already since Friday and we never got on top of the management of tires.”

Perez himself finished fifth after struggling to move up the field from sixth on the grid and believes circuits where the front tires are put under more stress than the rears, like Albert Park, are a weak spot for the Milton Keynes outfit.

“We were struggling early on, we could see that Ferrari and McLaren were a step ahead of us. I think we just couldn’t get the balance in a window. And there is some work to do for the coming races.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

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

Perez’s case wasn’t helped by incurring a three-place grid penalty for impeding in qualifying, which shuffled him back from third to sixth on the starting grid.

That meant he tied up his tires behind the struggling Mercedes of George Russell at the start of the race.

In the final stint, he was also unable to make any inroads on fourth-placed Oscar Piastri in the McLaren, instead falling 18 seconds behind before Russell’s crash.

“Yeah, the race would have looked a little bit different to how it looked, because basically the first stint we just [got stuck] behind Russell,” I explained.

“Losing the place to him was very damaging and, yeah… just a very bad weekend. Plenty of understanding for us to do.”

Additional reporting by Adam Cooper

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