Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko says that Sergio Perez is “no Verstappen” after their second year in partnership.
Since Perez’s arrival at Red Bull at the start of 2021, Verstappen has notably outperformed the Mexican driver en route to back-to-back title success.
Perez has a contract in place until the end of 2024, while Verstappen’s current deal doesn’t expire until the conclusion of the 2028 campaign.
Red Bull enjoyed a dominant 2022 season winning 17 out of 22 races. Its closest challenge came at the start of the year through Ferrari, whose form fell off as the season wore on.
“We certainly benefited from Ferrari’s strategic mistakes, from bad luck on their side, from the engine failures,” Marko told Auto Motor und Sport.
“Over the course of the season, they developed the car in such a way that it took the harder and harder on the tyres.
“That’s why we were so confident in the race. I think the 46-point deficit after the third race created a ‘now more than ever’ mood among us.”
Marko says that Verstappen was able to gain over Perez as Red Bull reduced the weight of its car as it developed during the year.
“Our car was 20 kilograms overweight at the start [of the season],” Marko said. “That was a reserve that brought a reliable time gain on the race track as soon as we were able to reduce the weight.
“In the wind tunnel, you gain so and so many points of downforce, but that’s just theory for now. Every kilogram less, on the other hand, is a certain time gain in practice.
“And this has also changed the driving behaviour in such a way that a Verstappen can make optimum use of it.
“And if Max can drive at the limit and has the confidence, then that’s something different than if someone else drives at the limit.
“Our car is where Perez is. And Perez is a very good Formula 1 driver, but he’s no Verstappen.”
This is the most toxic team in f1 unless you are max
No different than how Mercedes (e.g., Wolff and Hamilton) publicly treated Bottas, who was miles better than Perez.
Thanks boss, I really needed to hear that. If I remember right they used Sergio so Verstappen could win a race or two and when it came time to return the favor, Perez was screwed over because Max wouldn’t have any part in it.