(GMM) Two former backmarker F1 drivers remain lukewarm about Sergio Perez’s suitability to stay at Red Bull for his 2024 contract.
The team extended the Mexican’s contract to remain dominant world champion Max Verstappen’s teammate last year, taking him through to the end of 2024.
Since then, however, speculation about Red Bull potentially scrapping the deal has dominated the Formula 1 headlines as 33-year-old Perez’s performance slumped.
He has shown signs of improvement at the most recent grands prix, and on Sunday only narrowly missed out on returning to the podium after a thrilling duel and photo finish against Fernando Alonso in Brazil.
“I think that was the Checo that we know he’s capable of being,” team boss Christian Horner insists.
Even the mercurial Dr Helmut Marko sounds happier about Perez’s upward trend, with Horner insisting that the “clear intention” of the team is to keep the Mexican next to Verstappen next year.
Dutch GP boss Jan Lammers, however, was not impressed with Perez’s wheel-to-wheel dice with Alonso at Interlagos, insisting to NOS that it showed the “difference between a world champion and someone who will never be one”.
Another Dutch countryman of Verstappen’s, former F1 driver Christijan Albers, agrees that Perez has nothing to write home about after his latest performance.
“If you analyze lap by lap, you see that he is one second short per lap,” he told De Telegraaf. “That’s really a lot. He was 34 seconds behind at the end.
“He may have had that fight with Alonso, but he was a long way behind. One second per lap slower in the race. Then you can’t say he’s doing a good job.
“I understand that Verstappen is a natural talent and that the combination of Max and Red Bull is supreme,” Albers added. “But he (Perez) should still be within half a second.”