Sergio Perez had the unenviable job of going up against Max Verstappen in the Red Bull this year. The Mexican did record two early victories to give brief hope that the two might be evenly matched – only for Verstappen to launch the most dominant season in F1 history.
While the other drivers were hampered by their clearly slower machinery, there was no such excuse for Perez. All too often in 2023 his qualifying let him down, leaving him too much to do in the race and no chance in the championship.
Bernie Collins, former Aston Martin race strategist, worked with Perez when that team ran as Force India – and she was fairly damning in her overall assessment of how Checo’s season unfolded.
“I think his reputation has taken a hammering, and I think when we went into the start of the year, he was very strong – I was surprised how strong he was against Max,” she told the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“He’s not the driver Max is, Max is a much stronger driver.”
Perez not the only one to struggle
Collins did offer some analysis into Perez’s struggles though, citing the fact he went from team leader and the main points scoring in his Force India days to playing second fiddle at Red Bull.
“It must be much easier to be leading a team than struggling behind, week in, week out. It must be much more confidence to be getting good points, doing well in qualifying whatever the case may be. That must feel better than being second driver.
“And the number of people that have failed in that Red Bull seat – Albon, Ricciardo actually did really well, Gasly, there are so many people that haven’t done well in that Red Bull seat.”
With Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings at AlphaTauri and seemingly back to something approaching his best form after a spell on the sidelines, the pressure is only going to build on Perez heading into 2024 – especially if the team once again design a dominant car.
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