Sergio Perez’s father has claimed the Red Bull team is geared towards ensuring Max Verstappen becomes Formula 1 World Champion.
Red Bull have dominated the 2023 campaign, winning all but one of the 16 races to this point to wrap up the Constructors’ Championship with six rounds to spare.
But while Verstappen has surged to 13 victories – including 10 in a row between Miami and Monza – Perez has only scooped two wins, both of which came inside the opening four rounds of the season.
After closing to within a point of Verstappen after triumphing in Baku in April, Perez then hit a sudden slump, failing to progress to Q3 at five consecutive events and has dropped a huge 177 points behind his team-mate.
The Mexican expressed last month that his struggles could be attributed to the Red Bull car being developed away from his driving style for the second consecutive year.
Antonio Perez Garibay has subscribed to his son’s comments, stating that Red Bull is fixated on allowing Verstappen to thrive.
“Checo continues to battle. The car is set for Max because he drives with all the grip at the front and Checo has done it all the time with the grip at the back,” he told ESTO.
“The position Checo is in is the one he was hired for, second place.
“There is only one champion and you have to understand that. He has to work for it and respect it.
“All this was built for Max to be a champion and you have to understand and respect it. If he moved to another team he could be fourth or sixth.”
The speculation surrounding Perez’s future with Red Bull has remained intense throughout the course of this year.
Despite upholding a contract for next year, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko declared it wasn’t guaranteed Perez would remain alongside Verstappen next year. But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner denied that Perez could depart the Austrian outfit early.
However, Horner has addressed that “there’s quite a bit of interest from certain sectors about driving a Red Bull car” for 2025, touting McLaren’s Lando Norris as an option.
Although Perez endured a nightmare Japanese Grand Prix weekend to walk away empty-handed, the ex-McLaren driver remains 33 points clear of third-placed Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ standings.
Horner is optimistic that Perez will rebound in the closing stages of the season.
“He’s got at least a one race weekend sort of [points] ‘buffer’ to Lewis and greater than that to Fernando [Alonso] behind him,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“It’s something that we’ve never achieved; we’ve never finished first and second with any of our drivers in the world championship so it would be a big thing for us to achieve.
“He came close last year, it would be his best-ever result, and he’s got the best car that he’s ever had to be able to try and achieve that result.
“Japan was frustrating and difficult for him, but he’ll bounce back. I’m sure there’s enough races with the six grands prix remaining for him still to achieve some great results between now and the end of the season.”