Sunday, July 14, 2024

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How do Perez's problems compare to those of Verstappen's other F1 teammates?

Sergio Perez's performances at Red Bull are coming under renewed criticism following his recent poor run in Formula 1, but how do his problems compare to previous team-mate Max Verstappen?

Sergio Perez, who lost lower than a tenth of a second to Verstappen in qualifying on the true drivers' circuit that’s Suzuka, finds himself in a difficult position again because the gap to his team-mate becomes an increasing cause for concern for Red Bull as rival teams begin to pose a much greater challenge.

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Perez joined the team in 2021 with the aim of finally finding a brand new, solid wingman for Verstappen who would rack up podiums – and even wins when he can – while helping the team win the Constructors’ World Championship in addition to the Drivers’ titles.

In signing the 10-year Mexican F1 veteran, Red Bull has opted for reliable experience over the uncertain prospects of young drivers equivalent to Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon, who were each thrown into the deep end but struggled to remain afloat early of their F1 careers.

Initially, Perez's decision appeared to make sense, but while Verstappen managed to familiarize yourself with the Red Bull machinery, Perez found it harder to get probably the most out of their underpowered cars and sometimes struggled to search out a snug balance in practice, which put him within the background for the remainder of the weekend.

The 2024 season looked set to be different, and Perez did exactly what Red Bull expected, picking up three second-place finishes behind Verstappen early within the season to earn him a contract extension until 2026. However, since Miami, Perez’s previous mid-season slump has returned and he has not finished on the rostrum since.

Max Verstappen faced his toughest challenge in 2018 against Daniel Ricciardo

Max Verstappen faced his hardest challenge in 2018 against Daniel Ricciardo

Last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix was one other low point for Perez, who qualified eighth and finished seventh between the 2 Haas cars. Inevitably, Perez has come under a variety of criticism for his performances, so how do they compare to their predecessors as Verstappen’s team-mates?

Average qualifying gap between Verstappen and his teammates

Teammate

Average qualification gap

Daniela Ricciardo, 2016

0.049 faster than VER

Daniela Ricciardo, 2017

0.065 slower than VER

Daniela Ricciardo, 2018

0.107 slower than VER

Pierre Gasly, 2019

0.592 slower than VER

Alexander Albon, 2019

0.634 slower than VER

Alexander Albon, 2020

0.621 slower than VER

Sergio Perez, 2021

0.564 slower than VER

Sergio Perez, 2022

0.392 slower than VER

Sergio Perez, 2023

0.548 slower than VER

Sergio Perez, 2024

0.629 slower than VER

Looking at Perez’s three-and-a-half seasons with the Milton Keynes-based team, the Mexican only got here near Verstappen in 2022, the primary season with the present ground-effect system. One explanation is that Red Bull’s RB18 was significantly overloaded in the beginning of 2022, making it difficult to take care of balance. Verstappen was particularly unhappy with the induced understeer the RB18 already had within the box, which was slowly being ironed out. As the burden was reduced, Perez’s deficit grew.

Overall, the averages for every of the direct qualifying results show that Perez hasn’t necessarily gotten much worse. He’s at all times been a good bit behind Verstappen’s lap times, but with the sphere now much closer, each he and Red Bull are beginning to pay a much bigger price on the outcomes sheet. But 2024 is proving to be his hardest season yet, with a lot of the damage done in recent weeks.

The next query is how Perez compares to Verstappen's previous Red Bull team-mates, specifically Gasly and Albon, who were each dropped for not being as much as the duty.

Looking at the info, only Daniel Ricciardo has been in a position to force Verstappen to be honest, and since Ricciardo's departure, no worthy successor has been found for the Australian.

Teammate

Average difference in qualifications between teammates

Daniela Ricciardo

0.047 slower than VER

Pierre Gasly

0.592 slower than VER

Alexander Albon

0.625 slower than VER

Sergio Perez

0.520 slower than VER

On the one hand, Ricciardo had present in Red Bull the variety of automotive that suited his driving style and which he had been chasing unsuccessfully elsewhere ever since. But Verstappen was still early in his racing profession and, while his speed had at all times been there, he had not yet developed into the hyper-consistent, unstoppable force he’s today.

Gasly and Albon were each around six tenths of a second slower per lap, and Perez, who had initially been a tad closer, was now closing in on him as well.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

If anything, it shows that being Verstappen’s teammate isn’t any easy feat and that the Dutchman has a novel ability to work around Red Bull’s weaknesses, which has translated into strong results even on the bumpier tracks which can be the RB20’s Achilles heel.

But it also shows that while McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari usually outperform Perez in qualifying, Red Bull are back to square one of their seek for a reliable number two.

Perez, nonetheless, managed to maintain his place in the beginning of the yr despite Ricciardo’s inconsistent performances within the RB role and team boss Christian Horner’s reluctance to think about appointing Yuki Tsunoda.

But the choice to go secure with Perez fairly than usher in someone like Carlos Sainz is beginning to hurt.

Red Bull still has a giant lead within the constructors' championship over his rivals, who’re all taking points from one another, however the 34-year-old will soon be desperate to search out a way out of the opening.

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