The question as to whether a driver is one the wain in Formula One is now always so easy to identify. Results can be deceptive given the importance of the team provident a driver with machinery capable of winning races or competing strongly at the front of the field.
Often the comparison between team mates supposedly in identical cars is used to benchmark how well each driver is performing against their team mates historic results.
How to compare F1 drivers
However, even this doesn’t truly establish the pecking order due to the complexity of F1 design and different driving styles. One driver may prefer a car that oversteers, like Verstappen another prefers this less so and requires a more stable rear end for confidence in th corners.
Lewis Hamilton believes Sergio Perez is failing miserably.
When compared to his team mate Perez looks to be having one of his worst season’s in Formula One, despite having won two races and claimed a couple of pole positions along the way.
Yet even before his second race victory this year, the Mexican driver was clearly less at ease with his RB19 than Max Verstappen.
Early signs of perez struggles
During practice and qualifying at the third weekend off the season in Melbourne, Perez repeatedly struggled with his braking leaving the track repeatedly. Yet this was not an issue visibly apparent on the sister Red Bull car.
In qualifying Perez locked up, beached his car in the gravel and caused a red flag. Starting last on the grid he drove through the field to finish a distant fifth behind his team mate who won the race.
Checo bounced back next time out in Azerbaijan and benefitted from Russell damaging Verstappen’s car in the Sprint which Checo went on to win. Then an ill timed safety car saw the world champion overtaken during the pit stop sequence and the effort to chase down Perez for the win proved to be a futile affair.
The wheels then came of Sergio Perez’s world beginning with the first transatlantic journey of the F1 season. In Miami Perez impressed during qualifying claiming the front spot on the grid for the race on Sunday.
Verstappen record coming in 3 weeks
Meanwhile a number of flags in final qualifying saw the team unable to get Verstappen out at the right time to set a time. He started the race P9.
Verstappen cut through the field like a hot knife through butter and once in P2 reeled in his team mate in an assured fashion making the pass easily and securing the race victory by several seconds.
This was the first of now eight consecutive victories for Max which leaves him just one behind the all time record holder Sebastian Vettel. If he continues, Max will match the German’s historic feat, also completed in a Red Bull car, at his home race in Zandvoort in just over three weeks time.
In stark contrast following Miami Sergio Perez hit a woeful run which saw him fail to make Q3 for the next five race weekends. During the same period while his team mate dominated, he was outscored by Lewis Hamilton who persistently claims his W14 Mercedes is the second worst car he’s ever driven in Formula One.
Checo semblance of a return to form
Checo has had a semblance of return to form at the last two back to back races before the F1 summer break. A third place in Hungary was followed by a move one step up the podium in Belgium, although at Spa-Francrochamp without any technical difficulties Perez was an embarrassing 22.305 seconds adrift Verstappen in the same car.
Sergio’s improved performances have been ironically since Red Bull’s junior team sacked Nyck de Vries and brought back the eight times race winner Daniel Ricciardo. The Aussie as reserve driver was already lined up to step in for either Red Bull driver should they be unable to compete.
Alleged leaks and paddock rumours suggest should Ricciardo beat AlphTauri team mate Yuki Tsunoda over the next ten race events, he will be awarded Chico’s seat for the season of 2024.
As yet the advantage sits middle with Ricciardo, who performed better than Yuki in Hungary and the next week’s Sprint in Belgium. The Japanese driver delivered during the Grand Prix claiming a single point while Ricciardo struggled.
Hamilton closing in on Sergio
Sergio is now 129 points behind his team mate after 12 rounds of the 2023 Formula One season. With Fernando Alonso just 40 points in deficit and Lewis Hamilton a further point behind, Checo cannot be certain he will finish the season in second place behind his team mate despite the uber dominance of the RB19.
Verstappen may smash another F1 driver’s record this year if he concludes the drivers’ championship before Qatar with six races remaining.
Lewis Hamilton has now taken a swipe at Sergio Perez. Clearly frustrated by Mercedes fails from grace and seeing his arch rival destroying one F1 record after another, the British driver who is yet to sign a contract extension with the team.
Lewis slams Perez’s results this year
“Do I want to be as fast as him [Verstappen]? Of course,” Hamilton asked and answered.
“Would I like to have a car as fast as him? Of course.”
Then came the barbed assessment of how poorly Perez has performed when compared to his team mate.
“If I was in Sergio’s car, Max would not be having the same time he’s having now,” the British driver confidently claimed. Interestingly Hamilton does not claim he would beat Verstappen in the same machinery.
Hamilton regains control over team mate
After a flakey 2022 when his new team mate George Russell beat him in the drivers’ standings, Hamilton as returned this year to his usual position as Mercedes team leader, though has benefitted from the ever changing performance up’s and down’s that Ferrari and Aston Martin have experienced.
Mercedes now confirm they will replace George Russell with their academy driver Frederik Vesti. The Danish driver will take the wheel of the W14 in Mexico City for the first practice session of the weekend.
“I’m super excited to announce that I’m doing Formula 1’s FP1 in Mexico with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team,” said Vesti.
“It’s super exciting for me, it’s going to be my first official session in Formula 1. It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life. So, a huge thank you to Mercedes and I can’t wait to get started.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 1, 2023