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Sergio Perez: To be or not to be?

Written by Erin Thompson, Edited by Sean McKean

Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

After achieving two wins in the first five races, it seemed like Perez was going to have the season of his career in the RB19 with his World Champion teammate Max Verstappen by his side. However, throughout the season, this form has gradually dipped to the point where he is not regularly achieving top ten finishes and finds himself knocked out in Q1 more often than he would like to admit.

While he is not the only driver to have struggled with form this season, he is the only other driver to be racing in the RB19, a car which is — without a doubt — head and shoulders above the rest. This is a factor which has put his struggle this season in clear view and has everyone asking the same question: does he deserve that seat at Red Bull Racing?

Red Bull originally opted for Perez as a suitable wingman to the Dutchman, Max Verstappen, and had hoped that he would bring out the best in him, a task which has clearly been achieved, as seen by the record-breaking season Verstappen has had. So in that respect, Checo has done his job to the fullest extent this season.

The struggle for higher places isn’t Perez’s only issue this season as he has also had issues staying on the track both figuratively and literally. As of Brazil, Perez has cost Red Bull approximately $3,099,000 on repairs to his car this season, second only to Logan Sargeant, a figure compiled by Reddit user basspro23chevy who keeps track of the money spent by both the drivers and the constructors throughout the season.

Most frequently, these accidents occur with seeming impulsivity in situations, preventing him from thinking properly, the most recent example of this being turn 1 at his home race this season.

That being said, Christian Horner, Team Principal at Red Bull Racing, has commented on Perez's form, or lack thereof, saying that it is something that they need to 'unpick' and that they are working to rebuild his confidence and, in turn, his form.

As you would expect, the reason as to why he has experienced this dip in form is up for much debate. While Horner has said that 'with a car like we have, he's probably putting that pressure on himself,' arguing that his stint is due to a confidence issue which he insists they are working on together.

Contrasting his Team Principal’s view, Perez has stated throughout the season that the reason for his struggles are down to in-season development of the car which is going in a direction which opposes his driving style.

This is very plausible and coming from the man himself, a helpful insight into what he thinks that the issue is. The idea that the car just suits Verstappen’s style better would explain their differences in performance, however one then has to question why the team at Red Bull are dismissing these claims and moving further away from Perez’s style.

As Daniel Ricciardo said, “we are 'high performance athletes,'” and as we can see based off of other drivers, as well as athletes of other sports, not only do they sweat, they also experience dips in their form. The unreliability presented by Perez this season could just be down to a bad dip in his form in a car he is not all too confident in.

However, it could be more to do with Verstappen. As we know well by now, Verstappen has had solid teammates in the past in Ricciardo, Gasly and Albon. Despite their strengths though, they have all been replaced due to Verstappen's comparative strength.

Perez’s downfall this season appears to be a combination of these factors as the dip in form and confidence coincide perfectly, and this could be catalysed further due to the foregrounding of his poor performance compared to his high-flying teammate.

With the reason aside, it is perhaps undeniable that Sergio Perez's season has been inconsistent, poor and confusing when it comes to results. Perez is in the same constructor-winning car as his World Championship-holding teammate, yet he is still struggling for podiums. Is it good enough? That's for Horner to decide ultimately.

With his contract for Red Bull ending at the end of the 2024 season, much speculation has been held that a change may be made sooner given the vast differences between the two drivers but that then begs the question of who would be fit to replace him.

While there has been much speculation and encouragement for Daniel Ricciardo to make the move back to Red Bull, the Perez replacement driver is a topic which has been heavily theorised. Some believe that Yuki Tsunoda could be the clear choice due to the trend of promoting within. Tsunoda has had a solid season in the AT04; however, there is much conversation about whether or not he and Verstappen would work better together than another pairing.

Verstappen is a one man show and as aforementioned, he manages to make even the strongest of teammates look undeniably weak, so would it be the same for others? In theory yes, however maybe Verstappen needs a younger driver, with some experience on the track but not nearly as much as him. Maybe, for his teammate to shine with him, Verstappen needs someone to coach through the season and take under his wing.

Perhaps the strongest competitor of all then is Liam Lawson, a rookie driver that came in during the season to cover for Daniel Ricciardo after his injury. With rumours of all these drivers circulating the community, it does beg another question: would they be better than Perez at Red Bull Racing?

Regardless of spectator opinion, it is clear that there is more to this spell of poor performance than meets the eye. The real question being what is next for the Mexican driver. While it is more than likely that this poor form will improve, will it improve soon enough? Will we see Perez finish next season with Red Bull Racing, or will it be someone else alongside the high-flying Dutchman?


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