The 2023 Formula One season has been a rollercoaster ride for Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez. Despite being contracted until 2024 and showing promise at the start of the season, the Mexican has been involved in a series of challenges that have led to growing speculation about his future with the team.
Perez kicked off the 2023 season in style, winning two of the first three races and even looked set to lead the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career. However, team-mate Max Verstappen quickly closed the gap, setting the fastest lap in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and taking the lead.
After that, things took a turn for the worse. Despite starting from pole position in the Miami Grand Prix, Perez lost out to Verstappen, who started the race in ninth place. It was just the beginning of a slump that would see Perez fail to make Q3 in five consecutive races, while Verstappen continued his unbeaten run.
A string of penalties & unresolved issues
To add fuel to the fire, Perez was hit with three time penalties for track limit violations at the Qatar Grand Prix, further clouding his season. All this has led to considerable speculation about his place in the team, even with a contract in place for next season.
Red Bull refuse to help Perez
Red Bull Racing has rejected Sergio Perez’s request to return to an older version of its championship-winning RB19 Formula One car for the 2023 season. The request comes amid Perez’s continued struggles on track, according to respected German outlet AMuS.
Perez started the 2023 season on a high, winning two of the opening races. He looked set to lead the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career. However, teammate Max Verstappen managed to steal the fastest lap at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, effectively thwarting Perez’s rise to the top of the standings.
After the Miami Grand Prix, where Perez lost out to Verstappen despite starting from pole position, while Verstappen started ninth, Perez’s form took a nosedive. He went on to fail to qualify for Q3 in five consecutive races, during which time Verstappen remained unbeaten. Five months into the season, Perez’s struggles continued as he racked up three track limit penalties at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Speculation over Perez’s future
As a result of his deteriorating performances, speculation has mounted over Perez’s future with the team, despite having a contract that runs until 2024. With his best performances coming at the start of the 2023 season, it’s not surprising that he has expressed a desire to drive a pre-Spanish Grand Prix version of the RB19 car.
However, Red Bull Racing were quick to dismiss the idea, citing both financial and practical reasons for not allowing two different specifications of the same car.
The Haas F1 Team had previously gone down a similar route with driver Romain Grosjean, only to discover that their upgrades were less effective than initially thought when comparing the two car specifications.
In Red Bull’s case, there was no room for such experimentation. The team, and Max Verstappen in particular, dominated the 2023 season. From a technical perspective, the upgrades have made the car faster; it’s Perez who hasn’t been able to adapt to the changes.
Perez’s situation highlights the challenges drivers face in adapting to new car specifications mid-season, and raises questions about team dynamics when one driver consistently outperforms the other.
As the 2023 season unfolds, all eyes will be on Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez to see how the team and driver adapt to the evolving challenges of Formula One.
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