Sergio Perez has admitted that he finds it ‘hard to see’ Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen on such a dominant run of form as the championship leader chases a tenth consecutive Formula 1 win this weekend.
Verstappen made it nine in a row this season after taking the chequered flag first in Zandvoort, and has a chance to equal Sebastian Vettel’s decade-old benchmark of ten wins in a row this weekend.
Perez has only twice bettered Verstappen on race day this season having taken victories in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan. Verstappen’s current dominant run sees him sit 138 points ahead of second-placed Perez in the Driver’s standings.
Perez has long faced criticism over the deficit between himself and Verstappen, but the Mexican would rather marvel at his teammate’s achievement than let it create pressure.
“We’ve got to appreciate what Max is doing,” Perez said when asked what sets Verstappen apart from other drivers.
“At the level that he is driving at the moment, it’s extreme. I think the ability he has to perform at his 100 per cent every single weekend, no matter which conditions he’s driving at. It’s something that is quite hard to see as his team-mate.
“It doesn’t really matter what’s happened, whether we have a good margin or bad margins or the car is becoming difficult. He’s been able to extract 100 per cent, out of him, out of the car, pretty much every weekend.”
Having started off the season relatively strong, Perez has experienced a similar fall-off in performance as he did in 2022. Last season, that fall-off was put down to the development of the RB18 following a direction more suited to his reigning world champion teammate.
“I think every driver through their career or through each season, you get some upgrades to the car that adapt easier to your driving style than others, you know, like, sometimes you will put a part in it and you will straight away go faster with it,” he explained when asked if 2023 was a repeat of last year’s events.
“Sometimes you will have to adapt to it. And it’s something that we are all facing through our times during the season with the upgrades. And I haven’t been able to adapt as quickly as I should.
“I had to change my driving style a bit to adapt into the car more than in the beginning of the season, for example, when things were coming more naturally. But that’ something that most drivers at some point go through.”
Perez had found himself in somewhat of a slump following a crash in Q1 for the Monaco Grand Prix. After slew of poor qualifying performances, missing five consecutive Q3 sessions, the 33-year-old has had to deliver a series of recovery drives towards the podium. He has since recorded back-to-back podiums in Hungary and Belgium, but missed out on third place in Zandvoort due to a five second time-penalty.
“It’s how it works sometimes. We’ve seen with other drivers those sorts of gaps [to teammates],” he justified. “It’s a long season in F1 and it doesn’t really matter, in my opinion, where we are now, it only matters where we are able to finish and then we can summarise our season in Abu Dhabi.
“Definitely I went through a bit of a tough patch through the middle of the season where I was struggling the most with the car. But I think that’s all behind us and we should be having good races from now on.”