Motor racing-Perez feels the pain in Spain

Formula One F1 - Spanish Grand Prix - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain - May 8, 2021 Red Bull's Sergio Perez in action during qualifying REUTERS/Nacho Doce

(Reuters) - Red Bull's Sergio Perez felt pain in Spain on Saturday as he struggled to eighth place in qualifying at the Circuit de Catalunya while team mate Max Verstappen secured his slot on the front row.

The Mexican, who has been struggling to feel comfortable in the car since his move from Racing Point (now Aston Martin), told reporters a pain in his left shoulder grew during the session.

"I didn't feel 100% with myself today," he said. "I have a bit of an issue with my shoulder through qualifying, and I was just feeling bad all the way through it.

"It was just getting worse and worse as quali developed, and I struggled a bit more with it."

Perez said he had spoken to the team and expected the problem to be resolved by Sunday's race, and doubted it was anything he had done with the car.

"We don't know 100% what it is but we're pretty confident we can be back to form for tomorrow," he said, explaining that the pain started at the beginning of qualifying.

"It's been the toughest qualifying, not feeling 100% physically was a big limitation," he said.

Perez qualified on the front row at Imola, round two of the season, but has otherwise lagged Verstappen in qualifying in four races so far.

The 31-year-old Mexican was hired to help Red Bull mount a stronger title challenge, with Verstappen eclipsing his previous team mates, but has so far scored 22 points to the Dutch youngster's 61.

"I think it's a matter of time," he said. "It hasn't been a good weekend overall... I have some work to do on performance. Just getting to know the car a bit more will be key."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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