The critical issues Perez must solve to secure Red Bull future

To say Sergio Perez needs to find improvement this season would be an understatement – the gap between the Mexican and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen is far too big.

Last season started well for Perez as he collected two wins in the first four races to set up a title challenge, only for the dynamic to change at the Miami Grand Prix, where Verstappen rose from ninth on the grid to secure victory.

Valtteri Bottas was in a similar position for Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton and despite plenty of fighting talk, the Finn never could quite match the Briton.


No one at Red Bull or otherwise will be expecting Perez to defeat Verstappen from weekend to weekend in order to keep his seat alongside the Dutchman past 2024, yet with the gap so large on a consistent basis, there must be a more comparable performance.

Qualifying was an Achilles heel last season was seemingly qualifying, where he failed to reach Q3 on numerous occasions. Sometimes this was not his fault, but crash after crash and mistake after mistake meant some of the failures were inexcusable.

Pace in the race was often very competitive with those at the front of the grid, yet his lowly grid positions often left him fighting with one arm tied behind his back. It felt as though he was too eager to be faster than Verstappen at points and, as such, Perez just fell victim to overdriving.

During Austrian Grand Prix qualifying, for example, track limits were exceeded on three consecutive runs – errors that shouldn’t happen for a driver of Perez’s experience.

Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko often mutters ‘three-tenths’ when it comes to qualifying: If Perez is able to qualify within that margin to Verstappen, there is nothing to be concerned about.

The Mexican must quietly accept the position of second driver as well. That’s incredibly difficult, though it would almost certainly depressurise his situation, taking a weight off his shoulders and allowing him to drive freely.

If Perez reaches the podium on 15 occasions compared to the nine he secured last year, the gap would be reduced to Verstappen without too much hassle. That would be achieved by driving more within himself than trying to outperform the Dutchman.

But all that said, he doesn’t have to completely give up hope of championship glory…

Nico Rosberg

Comparisons rarely line up perfectly but perhaps it would pay off for Perez to give Nico Rosberg a call. The German – Bottas’ predecessor at Mercedes – struggled alongside Hamilton from 2013 to 2016 and still managed to grab a world title. Perez is not expected to play many mental games with Verstappen, but Rosberg’s flexibility is a potential example to follow.

Rosberg always handled Mercedes’ new developments reasonably well, while Perez is regularly quick to point out that updates do not suit his driving style. Of course, the German also complained sometimes, but he often turned it into extra motivation.

Perez does not necessarily need to replicate that, but he does need to have more mental toughness. At the beginning of the season, the Mexican may well have the title as a goal, as long as he can adjust that when it becomes apparent that Verstappen – or any other rival – is out of reach.

The expectation is that Perez will leave at the end of the season, but as always in F1, strong performances earn rewards. Lando Norris’ contract extension at McLaren is only good news for the Mexcian and if he can iron out the issues stated, there’s no reason he can’t return for 2025.


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