A dejected Sergio Perez said Saturday he was hoping Red Bull can fix the issue that wrecked his Australian Grand Prix qualifying so he can "minimise the damage" in the race.

The Mexican, who won in Saudi Arabia a fortnight ago, had a horror day in Melbourne as he struggled with grip and balance.

He joined the third practice session 20 minutes late as mechanics worked on his car, but left the track four times when he finally got on the circuit.

The problem persisted in qualifying when he locked up and careened into the gravel at Turn 3 on his first lap, beaching the car that had to be removed by a crane.

It means he will start last on Sunday, with a mountain to climb to get in the points on a track where overtaking isn't easy.

He told reporters the issue seemed to be brake balance, which he thought had been sorted out.

"I hope we are able to fix the technical issue for tomorrow, otherwise it will be really hard to race like this," he said.

"We are confident that together as a team we will be able to sort it out because it's very important that we do so.

"This morning we had the issue. We thought we had fixed it," he added. "So I was pretty confident on that part, but that wasn't the case, as soon as I touched the brake in Turn 3 (in qualifying)."

Perez is just one point behind teammate Max Verstappen in the championship standings, a gap that appears set to blow out on Sunday with the flying Dutchman starting from pole and hot favourite to win.

The Mexican said the goal was "to minimise the damage tomorrow and get some good points".