Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has ramped up the pressure on Sergio Perez, stating that “he is in a crisis” and might “need a change of team”.
Perez has endured a nightmare year since winning two of the first four races, dropping 209 points behind Max Verstappen, who was crowned World Champion last weekend.
Meanwhile, Perez’s struggles continued in Qatar as he failed to progress to Q3 in qualifying for the eighth time this year before picking up a trio of penalties for track limit infringements that dropped him to 10th.
Marko, who was handed a warning by the FIA last month for blaming Perez’s form on his ethnicity, believes departing Red Bull would help the Mexican escape his rut.
The Austrian has compared Perez’s troubles alongside Verstappen to those of Pierre Gasly, who was dropped from Red Bull’s senior side after only half a season.
“[Our relationship is] very good. He gave me massive support as did Max, by the way, who gave a few people a piece of his mind, Marko told Austrian publication
“You must not forget I brought Perez into the team back then . But that’s simply the fate with Verstappen that he’s suffering now. That was already the case with [Pierre] Gasly.
“From that point of view, Perez needs a change of climate and team. Now we’ll see how the next two races go. But the team and he are aware that he is in a crisis.”
Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19 crashed out of the race. 07.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar, Sprint Day.
Failure to also finish the Sprint race in Qatar meant Perez only picked up a solitary point, leaving him with a combined total of five points from the past three rounds.
Perez’s slump has enabled Lewis Hamilton to progressively close on second place in the Drivers’ Championship, with the Briton now only 30 points behind the second Red Bull.
Fortunately for Perez, Hamilton, who started third, collided with team-mate George Russell at Turn 1 on Sunday’s opening lap, putting him immediately out of the race.
Asked about the threat Hamilton poses to Perez, Marko said: “This fear is actually very concrete. Without the crash Hamilton would have made up 10, 15 points again.”
Marko asserts that Perez can still recapture his previous podium-scoring form by avoiding any comparisons to Verstappen.
The 80-year-old is also unconvinced that the support Perez is set to enjoy in the United States and Mexico will help him.
“Checo just has to do the best he can without looking at Verstappen. We are trying to help him do that. You see, there is no criticism from the team, only help. Maybe it will work.
“[The support in the United States and Mexico] doesn’t make it any easier for him. In addition, there is now a Sprint race in the USA – exactly what he doesn’t need at the moment.
“That makes it even more difficult for him because he always needs time to get up to speed. I hope that Austin will be halfway right, then it will be all right in Mexico.”