Sergio Perez struggled for much of last season in the all-conquering RB19 and while he finished the season in a career-best second place, he had less than half the points tally of his Red Bull team-mate.
With Max Verstappen making 2023 not just the year he won a third-straight world title, but also a campaign where he broke countless records, the comparison with Perez was stark – and unflattering.
To top it off, with Red Bull bringing back Daniel Ricciardo into the fold at their sister team AlphaTauri midway through the year, the pressure was firmly heaped on Perez.
The Mexican was asked about whether retirement entered his mind when he spoke to Motorsport at the last race of the season.
Did Perez consider retirement?
"No, obviously, that would have been the easiest route because it was very tough at times," said Perez.
"But I'm not the type of guy that at this stage of my career will be giving up and be willing to finish my career like that. It's not something that I ever considered doing."
Perez’s race results were hampered by his qualifying woes – the Mexican missing out on Q3 with worrying regularity in the middle of the season.
While he turned that around later on, he was still starting towards the back of the top 10 and giving himself far too much to do in the race.
He qualified P9 or lower in five of the last six race weekends, while Verstappen took three poles and a couple of second row starting berths in the same period.
"I'm aware of the responsibility I have and I'm not the sort of guy that will blame people around me for the results," he added. "At the end of the day I took responsibility for it and I had to turn around the situation quite a lot.
"I was having some weekends that were so difficult that they were not fun. I'm here because I still love what I'm doing and I'm here because I still have a lot of fun. And that was my main focus, that we really need things to turn them around.
"I had some really difficult times in a few months, let's put it that way. I went from fighting from the championship to being in a difficult boat, and not having that confidence with the car.
"But the end of the day, if you want to be at Red Bull, I'm aware of how strong mentally you have to be to be here. And it's something that I got stronger at. You learn so much from the bad days, much more than from the good days."
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