Helmut Marko admits that Perez is in the same dire situation as Gasly and Albon. Dr Helmut Marko, motorsport advisor at Red Bull, admits that Sergio Perez finds himself in the same situation this season as Pierre Gasly in 2019, when the Frenchman was unable to match Max Verstappen’s performance during his short stint with the Milton Keynes-based team.
Mexican Sergio Perez seems to have been stuck in a negative spiral since May, with some very disappointing results at the wheel of the best single-seater on the grid. The Red Bull driver – who has nonetheless taken two wins this year – is suffering terribly from the comparison with his team-mate Max Verstappen, who at the age of 26 clinched his third Formula 1 world title at the last race in Qatar.
Perez situation dire
Sergio Perez, for his part, has scored just five points in three Grand Prix weekends while his team-mate has scored 69, and although the Mexican is still second in the world drivers’ championship after the Qatar Grand Prix, he now finds himself under direct threat from Lewis Hamilton, who is just 30 points behind with five races still to go, including two Sprint races.
Recently, former F1 driver Gerhard Berger suggested that Sergio Perez should leave Red Bull to regain his form, because the Mexican needs “to be alongside a team-mate he can beat”, which Berger believes will never be the case with Verstappen.
Marko: Checo needs to stop looking at Verstappen
When Austrian media outlet OE24 asked Helmut Marko what he thought of Gerhard Berger’s comments on the subject of Sergio Perez, according to which it would be wiser for Perez to leave Red Bull, the Austrian replied: “You won’t be able to hear an answer from me on this subject just before the Mexican Grand Prix…” “Berger knows this from his own experience,” said Marko.
“Berger knows this from his own experience. He drove in the same team as Senna and he had to learn that there was someone there who was faster and better.”
When asked how Red Bull should go about getting Sergio Perez back to his early season form, Helmut Marko replied, “Checo just needs to get the best out of [the car] without looking at what Verstappen is doing.”
“We’re trying to help him with that. As you can see, there is no criticism from the team, only support. Maybe it will work.”
More pressure for Perez
In a few days’ time, Sergio Perez will have even more pressure on his shoulders when he takes part in his home Grand Prix in Mexico, where he is a real hero and supported by many fans. For Helmut Marko, this should not make the task any easier for the Mexican, who is already under pressure.
“It doesn’t make it any easier for him. On top of that, there’s now a Sprint race in the USA – exactly what he doesn’t need at the moment.”
“That makes it even harder for him because he still needs time to get up to speed. Hopefully Austin will suit and it will work again in Mexico.”
Although Red Bull has already clinched the constructors’ title this year since the Japanese Grand Prix, the Milton Keynes-based team is more than ever keen to see its two drivers finish first and second in the world championship this year, which would be a great first for the team.
However, Sergio Perez sees Lewis Hamilton slowly but surely closing the gap in the drivers’ standings, with the seven-time world champion 30 points behind the Red Bull driver.
When asked if Marko is worried that Sergio Perez won’t finish second this season, the Austrian replied: “That fear is actually very real. Without his retirement [at the Qatar GP], Lewis Hamilton would have gained ten or fifteen points.”
Marko: Perez needs a change of team
Insisting that his relationship with Sergio Perez is still very good, Helmut Marko also added that the Mexican was finally suffering the fate of Max Verstappen this season, just like Frenchman Pierre Gasly before him who was “demoted” to Toro Rosso or more recently Alexander Albon who was replaced by Sergio Perez.
“He’s simply suffering the same fate as Verstappen’s previous team mates at the moment. That was already the case for Gasly, and seen from that angle, Berger’s statement is the right one: Perez needs a change of climate and a change of team,” added Helmut Marko.
“We’ll now have to see how the next two races [Austin and Mexico] go, but he and the team are aware that they’re in crisis.”
Reading between the lines, then, Sergio Perez still has two races left to prove that he deserves his seat at Red Bull next season, because although the Mexican has a contract running until the end of 2024 with the Milton Keynes-based team, he could very well see it terminated in return for financial compensation.
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