What appeared to be the best of team mates for the Red Bull team in recent times is turning quickly into a nightmare. Sergio Perez was recruited alongside Max Verstappen in 2021 following a string of failed appointments to the Red Bull number 2 seat. The Mexican replaced Alex Albon the latest under pressure driver since the departure of Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the 2018 season.
Albon scored less than half of Verstappen’s points during the 2020 season and the previous year neither he nor Gasly who shared the first team driving came close to Max’s points haul.
Perez not convincing
It wasn’t a convincing start for Perez’s Red Bull career as during the 2021 campaign as the second Red Bull driver he scored just 50% of the points of the world champion.
Sergio has performed better this season winning races in Monaco and Singapore and has scored 290pts to his team mates 395.5 and is lying joint second in the drivers’ table alongside Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc.
Despite this improvement it is still questionable whether Perez is as good a number two for Red Bull as Valterri Bottas was for Mercedes and Hamilton.
During his first year at Mercedes in 2017, Bottas finished just 58 points behind Hamilton and followed this up with scoring 61%, 79% and 64% of Hamilton’s total over the Brit’s next three title winning seasons.
At 50% and 79% of Verstappen’s points during the past two seasons to date, Perez is hardly breaking any records.
The start of Red Bull tensions
All was going swimmingly until qualifying in Monaco where a dubious Perez crash prevented Verstappen from making his final Q3 run. Then the Perez requested Max help him win his home race in Mexico to which the world champion replied “no chance”.
This was followed by Max refusing to allow Sergio through into P6 in Brazil and the extra 2 points in his fight with LeClerc for 2nd in this season’s drivers’ championship. Perez derogatory response to his engineer was “that shows who he really is” when he was told Verstappen had refused the team order.
The rift between the Red Bull drivers is only likely to widen at the up coming Abu Dhabi GP following comments made on Instagram by Verstappen’s mother Sophie Kumpen.
Sergio accused of ‘wife cheating’
Replying to a post about Sergio, Kumpen posted, “And then in the evening cheating on his wife.”
The comment has since been deleted.
The remark was a reference to another controversy surrounding Perez following his win at the Monaco GP. The winning driver is the guest of honour at the gala ball thrown by the principalities royal family and Sergio was seen enjoying himself a little too much.
The Mexican race winner was photographed with his hands touching a woman inappropriately and with his lips close to another. The pictures were extracted from a video taken at the party.
Sergio was forced to publicly apologise to his wife claiming, “It was a bad party that I didn’t know how to control at the height of the person that I am, but it was just that, a very bad party,”
“People close to me know my values and the type of person that I am. For those who ask me, we are more united than ever, me and my wife.
“And for those who just want to hurt us, I wish you the best. Thank you all for your love and I apologise to all the people who love me because those videos don’t represent me not at all. We will not talk about this topic anymore, which only makes us forget the great moment we are living as a family. Thank you.”
Red Bull tensions set to rocket
Kumpen’s comments are likely to exacerbate the poor garage atmosphere this weekend particularly as the Red Bull team would like Verstappen to assist his team mate in beating Charles LeClerc.
Max is not without his own relationship controversy as Kumpen was reminded in a reply to her post. She was reminded that her son had take up with his current girlfriend Kelly Piquet while she was still with her former partner Daniil Kvyat with who she shares a daughter.
Should drivers be solely allowed to race or should they listen to their team orders?! 🤔 pic.twitter.com/uHkBjcUZ93
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) November 14, 2022