The reason stopping Red Bull from axing Sergio Perez as Daniel Ricciardo waits

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Sergio Perez is under pressure from F1 fans and the media (Image: Lynne Sladky/AP/REX/Shutterstock)
Sergio Perez is under pressure from F1 fans and the media (Image: Lynne Sladky/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Rarely has the position of a driver who is second in the Formula 1 world championship been questioned so much.

But Sergio Perez is the subject of intense scrutiny at the moment. His crime? Not being as good as Max Verstappen. And, to be fair to him, few are.

Perez began the season by hinting that he might be able to provide a test for his Red Bull team-mate this season. They took two victories each from the first four races and, with the Mexican only six points behind his team-mate, were were hoping for an intra-team title race, even if no-one else could match them.

Red Bull's unbeaten run is still intact, but Perez hasn't won since. Verstappen is on eight victories in a row and, frankly, you wouldn't put it past him getting into double figures in that regard.

Karun Chandhok said this week that the Miami Grand Prix, at which Perez qualified on pole before he was still beaten by his team-mate who started ninth, "broke" him. And, to be honest, he's probably right.

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A horrible run of qualifying performances followed, which in turn left him powerless to challenge his team-mate on race day. He finally ended his hoodoo in Belgium last weekend and started second, but still finished 22 seconds adrift of Verstappen who was four places behind at the start.

As a result of Verstappen's domination, there has been plenty of speculation over Perez's place. He has a contract to the end of 2024, but many have suggested Red Bull might pull the trigger before then if he continues to struggle.

The reason stopping Red Bull from axing Sergio Perez as Daniel Ricciardo waitsPerez's form and Ricciardo's F1 return have led to suggestions the Aussie could take that Red Bull seat (Seth Wenig/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

It's not an unreasonable prediction. After all, Red Bull have rarely shied away from axing a driver mid-season if performance expectations have not been met. Just ask Nyck de Vries.

And Daniel Ricciardo's return to the grid should put extra pressure on Perez, as there's now one more potential replacement being given a chance to prove himself. The Aussie has certainly made no secret of his desire to return to that seat away from which he once walked away so willingly.

But while there's every chance the 2024 season might be Perez's last with Red Bull, only a complete deterioration of his form and confidence will see him axed before then. The simple reason – who else could do better while also being willing to play second fiddle within the team?

Because that's the reality of that role No matter how much everyone in that seat claims to be eyeing the title, the reality is that Verstappen and Red Bull harmonise in such a way that it's very difficult to see anyone truly going toe-to-toe with him in that team.

Few would argue that Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso wouldn't fare better than Perez in terms of providing the Dutchman with a stiffer challenge. But having two dominant personalities within that team would be explosive to say the least – great entertainment for us, but not ideal for the team.

So the ideal team-mate for Verstappen, from Red Bull's perspective, is someone content with that number two role that doesn't officially exist but also good enough to finish second regularly and win when, for whatever reason, his team-mate can't. And Red Bull know that there likely isn't anyone more appropriate for that role than the man currently in it.

Daniel Moxon

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