Sergio Perez is the perfect teammate for Max Verstappen at Red Bull, according to Dr. Helmut Marko.
The veteran Austrian driver is an advisor to the Red Bull team and is also the person helming their junior program with drivers in lower formulas.
Marko was the one who saw the rise of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull before the eventual arrival of a teenage Max Verstappen. The prodigy’s talents were such that other drivers found it difficult to either coexist with the Dutchman or measure up to him.
Ricciardo made way for Pierre Gasly in 2019, who stepped aside for Alex Albon six months into his tenure, with the latter also failing to meet expectations during his 18 months with the team. That is when Marko and Red Bull chose to change their approach by entering the driver market as opposed to promotion from within.
In an interview with the Red Bull Bulletin, the 79-year-old looked back on the decision to sign ‘Checo’ Perez after the Mexican was left without a drive at Racing Point (now Aston Martin F1). He said:
“Max [Verstappen] can drive any car fast. That’s why having Sergio Pérez as his teammate is perfect. Checo doesn’t try to fight but does everything he can, and that can lead to victory as it did in Baku last season. The two work very well together.”
The truth behind Marko’s assessment can be easily deduced from the stats. Red Bull have more wins, podium places, and overall points with the current Max Verstappen-Sergio Perez partnership than they ever did with either Ricciardo, Gasly, or Albon.
With Perez, Red Bull have finally managed to get a driver who can perform close to Verstappen’s level without crumbling under the pressure that comes with the territory.
Sergio Perez is admittedly much more comfortable with his Red Bull car in his sophomore season with the team.
The Mexican joined Red Bull from Racing Point (now Aston Martin F1) in a dramatic turn of events following the conclusion of the 2020 F1 season. His first year with the Milton Keynes-based team was mainly spent trying to adapt to a new car design and concept.
Sergio Perez claimed five podium finishes and one win, as well as playing a vital role in dueling with Lewis Hamilton to aid Max Verstappen’s cause in the 2021 F1 season finale.
Now, he feels much more at home in the cockpit of his Red Bull RB18. Speaking in an interview in the lead-up to the 2022 F1 British GP, the 32-year-old said:
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“I’m definitely more comfortable with the car than I was last year. For example, it took me a bit longer to adapt to last year’s car. This year I can feel that already from FP1 I can start working on the car instead of working how to exploit the maximum out of the car. So that’s a huge difference over the weekend. When I go into qualifying I’m much more prepared and similarly when I go into the race I think we’ve got a good platform. I’m confident with the car and I know what I have to do with the team to take the most out of it.”
Checo has a deal with Red Bull that runs through until the end of 2024 and has his sights set on the 2022 F1 Austrian GP next at the Spielberg Circuit.