The Mexican locked up and beached his car in the Turn 3 gravel trap on his first lap of Q1, meaning he will start Sunday’s race in Melbourne from the very back of the grid. 

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With Max Verstappen going on to claim pole position, it marks a major blow to Perez’s early hopes of fighting his teammate for the 2023 world title. 

“It was really bad, it was a terrible day,” Perez, who is just one point behind Verstappen in the championship after winning last time out in Saudi Arabia, admitted to Sky. 

“Already in FP3 we had this issue. We thought we fixed it but obviously we didn’t so I really hope we are able to fix it come the race or otherwise it will be very difficult to race like this.”

Sky Sports pundit and ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok suggested Perez’s off might have been caused by an “engine overrun” during his post-session analysis of the incident. 

Asked if he thought Chandhok’s theory was correct, Perez replied: “I don’t want to go too much into detail, because I don’t think it is worth it for us. 

"We have to work together as a team to overcome this problem. Minimising the damage will be really important.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the team are in the process of checking for a potential issue. 

“He’s had a horrible day today,” Horner told Sky.

“He never really recovered from that P3 and then this lap [in qualifying], which was never really going to be a consequential lap, to unfortunately lock up and go off. 

“We’re just checking all the data to see if there’s something within the engine management that has maybe contributed to that. We’re just going through all that data as we speak.”

In his post-qualifying ‘Notebook’, Sky’s pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz said an engine-related problem seemed most likely. 

“There is definitely something wrong with the car but Red Bull won’t tell us what it is, which probably doesn’t help Sergio Perez very much and he doesn’t want to tell us either,” he said.  

“So we’ll just go with Karun's [Chandhok] idea that it is probably something on the overrun and the car sort of pushing itself into a corner and not being able to brake as effectively as it needs to. That certainly looks like what happened. 

“Maybe there is a brake issue in there as well, but we don’t know that because they aren’t telling us.”