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Sergio Perez urges Red Bull to stay vigilant as rivals close the gap

Red Bull's Sergio Perez emphasized the necessity for his team to "keep working" as competitors McLaren and Ferrari show signs of closing in.

Following a challenging weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Perez remains optimistic yet cautious, attributing some of the team's struggles to the specific nature of the Imola circuit.

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix revealed vulnerabilities in the Red Bull camp. Despite securing pole position, Max Verstappen and his team faced significant hurdles. Perez, starting from P11, managed to claw his way back to eighth place by the end of the race. However, the competition is heating up, with Lando Norris almost catching Verstappen in the final laps, narrowly missing out on consecutive grand prix victories.

Perez, addressing the media post-race, explained, "I think it's a bit of circuit-specific," when questioned about the potential for ongoing issues. He added, "We've got to keep our heads down, keep working. Still, I'm happy that Max [Verstappen] got the victory for the team.

"We've seen that McLaren [and] Ferrari have done a step forward, so we just have to keep our heads down. The season is long. [We have to] keep maximizing opportunities."

The Red Bull team had to make extensive set-up changes before qualifying at Imola, following disappointing practice sessions on Friday. While Verstappen adapted and secured pole, Perez struggled to advance beyond Q2, resulting in a P11 start. His recovery to eighth place was noteworthy but highlighted the challenges ahead.

Imola's notorious difficulty in overtaking compounded Perez's struggles. Starting on the Hard compound tires, he found himself impeded by traffic and competitors on faster Medium tires. His strategy to extend his first stint paid off to some extent, allowing him to make progress later in the race on fresher rubber.

"I think we sort of knew that that was the best we could get," Perez commented. "We obviously knew that the car was going to be very difficult initially, but we were hoping for a safety car at the right point that potentially could put us back in the fight.

"It was very difficult in the first stint. I think it was compromised a lot with the traffic initially, traffic at the end - people coming through."

Perez also acknowledged a significant error during the race, a lock-up into Turn 16 that caused an off-track excursion and some car damage. Despite this, he felt the Mercedes ahead maintained too comfortable a gap for him to challenge them effectively.

"And I also had a lock-up going into [Turn] 16. So I went straight and lost quite a bit of time. I also picked up some damage. Just a very, very tough race," Perez remarked, reflecting on his challenging afternoon.

As Formula 1 heads to the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix, the stakes are higher than ever. Scheduled for May 24-26, the event is set to be a critical juncture in the season.

The Circuit de Monaco, known for its tight and twisty nature, will test the drivers and teams to their limits, promising another thrilling chapter in the ongoing battle for supremacy in Formula 1.

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