Is Perez the number two driver at Red Bull?
Written By Owen Bradley, Edited By Elisabeth Brown
Sergio Pérez has played quite the pivotal role for Red Bull Racing, especially in 2021 when he slowed up Lewis Hamilton, giving Max Verstappen a solid chance at an overtake.
However, Pérez has been a little inconsistent in his time at Red Bull, with the most recent race weekend in Spain proving this quite well. He qualified in fifth place, but actually seemed to have the pace to win the race. Unfortunately for the Mexican, during the Grand Prix Red Bull stepped in and told him to let Verstappen by, something which is all too familiar to the team.
Between 2010 to 2013, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel had a great battle, but there was an uneasy feeling in the Red Bull garage at the time.
Despite winning four World Constructors’ Championships and four World Drivers’ Championships with Vettel, there were frequent occasions when Webber was overlooked for victories and had to sacrifice his race for his teammate.
Arguably the most famous occasion was the Multi-21 incident at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, in which the team wanted Vettel to remain behind Webber: driver number two in front of driver number one -- Multi-21.
However, Vettel ignored the order and instead attacked Webber, who had his engine turned down as he was saving his tyres. Vettel went on to claim victory ahead of Webber.
There were also occasions when Webber's front wing was given to Vettel, which Webber appeared thoroughly frustrated about.
With Pérez having sacrificed his race at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix to allow Verstappen through to win, it appears that there is a theme emerging in Pérez's Red Bull career: Pérez is either already the number two driver or is about to become a solidified number two to Verstappen.
This is exactly why Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull in 2018, out of fear he could become the number two to Verstappen.
Pérez likely doesn't have a choice to join another team that can give him wins, and with being in the back end of his F1 career, it seems reasonable that he should continue with Red Bull.
However, something Webber did quite often was fight back against the team’s best wishes. For example, the radio message in which he stated: "not bad for a number two driver, cheers" at the 2010 British Grand Prix after his victory.
So, if Pérez is going to succeed in his goal of winning an F1 championship, he’s going to need to develop a backbone against Red Bull.
Pérez currently has 85 points in the drivers’ standings to Verstappen’s 110, so Pérez must act fast if he is to show the team that he can win championships as well.