At Red Bull you are always in the shadow of Max Verstappen

The qualifying duel between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez is 8-0. Since 2021, Sergio Perez has won five races, Max Verstappen 49. Checo’s last victory was more than a year ago with Azerbaijan in 2023. Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon and Sergio Perez – all suffered or are suffering under the shadow of the Mozart of Formula 1. Perez: Pressure at Red Bull is higher than anywhere else.

Sergio Perez: Max Verstappen made crisis at Red Bull worse

“I can only speak for myself: But there is a reason why Red Bull doesn’t work for everyone,” Sergio Perez philosophized in Imola. That reason is Max Emilian Verstappen. After three and a half years with the team, the Red Bull driver sums it up: “It’s pretty difficult being Max’s teammate.”

Because: Next to the 26-year-old, everyone looks very bad. “I’m sure I would shine more with another teammate,” explains the six-time Grand Prix winner. “And if you’re already having problems, and then you have a teammate like Max, who delivers like that weekend after weekend…”

“At some point you get into a vicious circle. You’re just chasing the car setup, even though there’s probably not much to be gained from it,” says Perez about his difficulties. In 2023, he got completely lost in the setup jungle, desperate to try things out on his own and beat Verstappen. In vain.

Winner Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez celebrate the Red Bull double victory on the podium
Red Bull started the year with three double victories in four races, Photo: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The result: After a good start with two wins, he got into a negative spiral. Things only got better when Perez started to focus more on Verstappen’s setup. “It might be best to make a fresh start and stay mentally strong,” he explains. Addendum: “It can be really hard sometimes. At Red Bull, you have to be mentally strong.”

Red Bull high-pressure chamber: Even worse than other Formula 1 teams

The plan for 2024 is the same: a basic setup and then a standard set-up plan together with the team-mate. Until the start of the European season in the premier class, this worked well with three second places and one third place. Perez has been struggling since Imola, in Monaco things got worse instead of better and Perez was very reminiscent of his previous year’s version. In the drivers’ standings, Checo has now slipped to P5.

“I will win again as long as I perform every weekend,” Perez is sure. He has a possible extension of his contract in the back of his mind, which expires at Red Bull at the end of 2024. “But I think in Formula 1 you are always under pressure, regardless of whether you have a contract or not. You always have to deliver.” But: “Red Bull in particular creates an environment in which the pressure is very high.”

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But it’s not all bad with Max Verstappen. “It’s a big challenge. He’s the best driver, very complete, very rarely makes mistakes,” said Perez. “It’s also good to have a teammate who pushes you and really pushes you to the limit. I know that I can only beat him with a perfect weekend.”

Alpine team-mates Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly are also not having an easy time together. You can read Christian Danner’s opinion on this in the current issue of the AvD Motorsport magazine.

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