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17th August 2022, 7:59 | Written by Keith Collantine
Throughout his first season at Red Bull last year, Sergio Perez made it clear his lack of familiarity with the team’s car was costing him compared to his team mate.
Nonetheless he made obvious progress over the course of the season and in the final races played a vital role in ensuring Max Verstappen clinched the drivers’ championship.
Come the new season, when Perez planted his new RB18 on pole position for the second race of the season in Saudi Arabia – the first time he’d ever occupied the top spot on the grid for a Formula 1 race – it was clear he was more comfortable in the new chassis. Perhaps even more so than Verstappen, who couldn’t make it perform quite the way he wanted to in the opening races.
The team was dogged by reliability problems in the opening races. The pair pulled up before the finish in Bahrain (yet were classified, skewing that data point in Perez’s favour) and Verstappen dropped out in Australia too. As a result, going into the Spanish Grand Prix, Perez was only 19 points off his team mate.
That made Red Bull’s unhesitant and repeated issuing of team orders for Perez to assist Verstappen in Barcelona all the more eye-catching, and a marked contrast to Ferrari’s way of going racing this year. It meant that when Perez won in Monaco (aided by out-qualifying his team mate again, though had Perez not crashed in Q3 he might not have done) he closed to within 15 points of his team mate, a gap that might have been narrower still had Red Bull allowed the pair to race in Spain.
But these hypotheticals soon became moot as Verstappen clicked with the RB18 and Perez suffered another technical retirement in Canada, levelling that tally with his team mate. Only a lump of debris at Silverstone stopped Verstappen out-scoring Perez at every race since.
Indeed, in recent races the gap between the pair in qualifying has become worryingly large for Perez. While Verstappen’s huge championship lead is in little realistic danger, there is a widening margin between the Red Bull drivers which Ferrari, and increasingly Mercedes, can capitalise on.
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17th August 2022, 8:20
Verstappen continues good form and outclassing of team mates
17th August 2022, 9:07
*Team mates that are not allowed to challenge Verstappen in the race.
17th August 2022, 9:13
nah, man, that’s just not true. To challenge Max, he should be a couple of seconds adrift. But in 90% of the races, Perez is >15 sec behind.
A M (@amam)
17th August 2022, 10:40
17th August 2022, 10:50
*Team mates that are not allowed to challenge Verstappen in the race.
I agree that Verstappen is clear nr 1 at Red Bull and that teammates are asked to move aside at certain occasions, but I doubt that the stats between Verstappen and his (former) teammates would have been very different, were they allowed to race each other.
17th August 2022, 11:22
And for Perez this season especially indeed @matthijs, apart from possibly Spain which the article notes, the gap in qualifying after Silverstone has been quite remarkable, and that has meant that Perez has too much to do in most races (and with not enough pace to do it like Verstappen did in last race) to even think about fighting Verstappen.
I bet Red Bull would have loved it if they’d have to consider whether or not they had to issue team orders in those races; sure they were saved a lot of work by Ferrari finding ways to not win, but Perez rarely was able to be real gunner too.
18th August 2022, 0:00
No driver is going to put up with being told to let another driver win if he is consistently competitive.
Pérez knows that he is not quick enough to challenge Verstappen over a full season, and everyone at the team knows this as well. So they have a pretty simple flowchart to make their decisions. Can Pérez let Verstappen by? Yes, then do so. No, then keep the position and take maximum points off their competitors. Pérez gets to win if Verstappen has already secured the title. Ferrari did this with Barrichello and Schumacher, and then with Räikkönen and Massa (both ways around!), and Mercedes did this with Bottas and Hamilton. It works just fine.
It’s more useful to compare Pérez to Leclerc, since his job is to be between Verstappen and whoever the main competitor is. Pérez beat Leclerc at Imola, and in Monaco, England, and Hungary. Considering the massive contributions of the Ferrari Strategy Gurus to Leclerc’s fortunes in three of those cases, that’s not a particularly great result. But it’s decent, and he’s taking valuable points from Verstappen’s competitor in the process. There’s room for improvement, but his goal is not to be competitive with Verstappen.
17th August 2022, 8:32
Perez signed the last of his long career, big money 2nd driver contract after Monaco and his performance reflects the situation exactly. File this article and repeat the next two years with the date changed.
17th August 2022, 8:57
I think the season is a fair reflection of the difference between a good driver and a great driver.
17th August 2022, 15:35
I agree. This season, Perez has peaked in terms of his driving performances. This is the absolute limit for him. Max, started off slowly and then found his usual dominant rhythm. The scoreboard just reflects the absolute gulf in class between a a great driver and a good driver.
17th August 2022, 9:03
That’s a lot of red in the scorecard.
It seems like the 2nd seat at RBR is becoming the most dreaded one in F1: most drivers would love to have it, but once they get in, it’s just a painful experience through and through. They all turn from happy & cheerful, to gloomy and bleak.
17th August 2022, 18:01
I wish they had given it to Alonso.
Verstappen’s consistent performance and Alonso’s racing smarts & experience would make it a perfect couple.
17th August 2022, 10:02
No doubt MV is a great driver. I don’t like him myself, but still he is a great driver.
As such, the fact that he has basically only been paired with ‘good’ drivers should mean that the comparisons we have seen over the years should not be surprising at all.
I’d potentially argue that some have not been given enough time in the car, but I would not argue with those that believe all were given ‘enough’ time if they had the natural ability. I also believe that DR ran MV much closer than history seems to suggest – yet many now seem to be of the opinion that DR was never that good anyway – but again I am not going to argue with those that disagree.
Other than a lack of consistency though, I think SP deserves the chance he has been given at RB, and I am sure that he realises that he is unlikely to ever finish the season on top. Still, I hope he retains the hunger to keep trying anyway.
17th August 2022, 13:52
“I don’t like him myself, … ” Having never spent any time with MV, I cannot say.
17th August 2022, 21:39
I can Look at the company MV keeps, boss is a relationship cheater, father is an attempted murderer, and then there’s Messrs Piquet Sr and Jr. Doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to consider the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Especially if you also consider his affinity for violence and attitude to the mentally ill and disabled.
18th August 2022, 8:14
Then you would be total wrong about him..
A M (@amam)
17th August 2022, 10:13
Perez had to give up the chance of a win one race this season, and has been ordered to move out the way in many others. Perez isn’t allowed to challenge Max. It really is pointless comparing to the two. Max has the team at his beck and call. Perez is only there to assist Max. Same as all his other teammates apart from Ricciardo. But even Ricciardo decided to leave after the Horner/Marko said they were building the team around Max.
17th August 2022, 10:50
But even Ricciardo decided to leave after the Horner/Marko said they were building the team around Max.
It was obvious they will build the team around Max and it was right decision. The second reason why Ricciardo decided to leave was Honda engine – he had some doubts about Honda’s ability to improve and openly suggested this in interviews. It was all on Max to start that difficult period with Honda. Ricciardo can be fast but he isn’t a team leader for sure.
17th August 2022, 12:24
Ahh yes, the traditional “X team won’t let Y win” post, used to dismiss the performance of selected drivers as a wider conspiracy.
Notably used for Schumacher, Alonso and then Vettel at Ferrari. Or Vettel and Verstappen at Red Bull.
Because there was no chance that these drivers were actually better than their teammates.
Strangely never mentioned in comments about Hamilton’s career.
17th August 2022, 13:26
Because Mercedes never used team orders against Bottas or Rosberg, did they….
17th August 2022, 17:10
I hope you are cynical. MB gave of all the teams the mist teamiorders
17th August 2022, 18:13
That is because for Lewis they have the “Rosberg beat him in 2016” tired old record instead.
17th August 2022, 12:52
@amam It is fairly obvious that the quality of the car is more important than the quality of the driver. Put Latifi in the Red Bull and Verstappen in a Williams and Latifi will be faster. However, when the cars are relatively equal (like Red Bull and Mercedes last year and Red Bull and Ferrari this year) it is all about who is the best driver. I am confident that Red Bull would not have been world champion last year when Perez had to lead the way. Same applies to Hamilton and Mercedes, only Hamilton was able to give Verstappen a run for his money last year.
It is very obvious why drivers like (post 2018-)Verstappen and Hamilton often get the preferable treatment within the team compared to their teammates: they always deliver when needed and pay the team back with wins and championships.
17th August 2022, 14:10
“Put Latifi in the Red Bull and Verstappen in a Williams and Latifi will be faster”.
With respect, I’m not so sure about that.
Albon has got the Williams in the points, and Max is even faster. Meanwhile, Latifi is slower than Perez. I think they’d both be battling for the same positions.
17th August 2022, 14:20
It was indeed a bold statement. My sentiment is that the car brings you to the front of the grid, but it’s the driver that delivers you championships.
17th August 2022, 17:48
I don’t think verstappen can make more than 1 sec difference, and williams can be really slow, I’d probably marginally give the nod to latifi, but yes, in some circumstances they could fight.
17th August 2022, 11:59
The ‘finished ahead’ stat is a bit off. A bit odd to give Perez the ‘finished ahead’ in Bahrain, as both didn’t see the checkered flag due to technical DNF’s in the last few laps.
17th August 2022, 12:19
They were both classified. The history books will say Perez finished ahead. It’s fair that Racefans use the same criteria. They’ve even mentioned it in their article.
17th August 2022, 18:08
I always thought finished ahead meant finished ahead of the other finishing driver, not merely classified ahead.
But as long as it’s done consistently it’s not a biggie.
Le Jimster (@lejimster82)
17th August 2022, 12:33
Checo has made a couple of costly mistakes and had a little bit of bad luck which has cost him a lot of points. Realistically he should be 2nd in the championship right now. As for his performance in general, he’s struggled with the car since they brought updates. If he and his engineers can get a clear understanding of what is wrong he can still have a strong finish to the season and come back even stronger next year.
But if this is a recurring theme of hard to setup cars, he will struggle to ever compete with Max who is more adaptable.
17th August 2022, 12:56
Yeah people seem to overlook Checo’s inability to adapt to different car setups.
He struggled most of last year and still doesn’t have it under control.
He is underperforming in qualy leaving Max surrounded be Ferrari and Merc. Unacceptable.
He is not a great driver but very good. Expecting him to beat Max under any circumstances is ridiculous.
Maybe they shouldn’t have signed him for 2 more years – time will tell.
17th August 2022, 14:16
I feel people are harder on Checo than they need to be. He is never going to beat Verstappen or be in the same category as him, so that’s not his goal and never should be. I know people get upset about “team orders” and whatnot, but you can’t run a WDC challenging team with two contenders unless there’s no other competition. Max is always going to be the one winning the races and championships and Checo’s role is only to be there when Max -for whatever reason it may be- isn’t.
That’s why he’s been doing a good job both this and past year. Yes, his pace could be a bit stronger, but overall he’s gotten some crucial jobs done. He’s won races when he needed to (Baku last year after Max retired, and Monaco this year after Max just couldn’t come to grips with the car on the narrow streets in the same way and had a poor qualifying result), been a thorn in the side of Ferrari this year and Lewis last year, just all in all he’s done the job they need him to do.
I don’t think Red Bull are particularly upset Checo is not on the same pace as Max. They really don’t need another Max, they’ve already got one. They need a wingman.
17th August 2022, 14:00
If they were to replace Checo in 2023, who would be the most likely candidate?
They’ve already employed nearly half the current grid at some point (in RB or TR/AT).
17th August 2022, 14:13
I think Red Bull might replace Perez with Gasly mid season in 2023 if Perez continues to underperform.
Le Jimster (@lejimster82)
17th August 2022, 18:55
He’s 3rd in championship. 5 points behind 2nd. He hasn’t really “underperformed” all year except Hungary Qualifying and his race pace by the end was very strong (fastest I believe in the final stint).
He would have to have an absolute disaster for Gasly to get back in that car next year. I don’t see Gasly ever returning to Red Bull imho, he should be trying to get himself into that Alpine seat.
17th August 2022, 14:22
Perez made way for Verstappen in Baku too
No, he didn’t. The call was made between 0.3sec behind Perez (when Perez had at the very least already chosen a line) and after the first corner. The F1 TV apps were posting sort of conflicting information at the time as far as I recall. He tried to bluff an overtake right after probably in hopes Verstappen compromised his line to turn 2 and overtake on the back straight. So much for compliance.
If you don’t have F1 TV here is a video of full radio/GPS/timings. Up until that moment, his engineer tried his hardest to help him stay ahead.
17th August 2022, 16:09
Red Bull got it right from the start.
Just imagine if Ferrari did the same. Leclerc would have on Britain and Hungary.
It’s boring as hell, but who can blame them? It works.
17th August 2022, 16:10
17th August 2022, 17:44
What I don’t understand here is that I never heard fans complain about the boringly races when MB got their wins and championship. When lewis won with mire than 10 seconds ahead. Suddenly, when one team, without a british driver, is leading, it us suddenly boring. Interesting
17th August 2022, 17:46
Sorry, the above comment was ment for @edvaldo
17th August 2022, 18:15
@itsme This must be sarcasm surely? Everyone was screaming for bottas who is a richmans Perez to be replaced year on year. Im not seeing that half as much at the minute, atleast with Bottas he could show some 1 lap pace quite often Max and Lewis are always gonna beat them sort of drivers though with big gaps in the races. People moaned in 2017 2018 fgs when Lewis had an equal car so a few comments is nothing.
17th August 2022, 18:37
you should look for my comments from 2 years ago before jumping to conclusions then.
Every fan of the sport wants to see the best seats taken by the best drivers, not by some filler driver.
Horner himself said they considered hiring Hamilton on the Vettel era, but he wasn’t sure he could manage two ALPHAS (his words). So they went with Webber. And now Perez. And it worked back then and it’s working now.
17th August 2022, 23:11
It arguably cost Red Bull the WCC last year and would have cost them the WDC too if not for the last race. Horner’s inability to manage 2 competitive drivers will cost Red Bull again in future too.
17th August 2022, 18:35
I always thought Max had legs on Ric i never like some sshouted 2 1 ric you have to look at the contents it reminded me of the Button outscored Lewis crowd over 3 years lol. Lewis won 2 1 thats all that matterd especially when you judge the pace of the drivers. Max lost to Ric yes but he was still better the sad thing is Ric atleast had plenty of days and Max is going against a poor mans Bottas who everyone ridiculed. Perez should of been winning Catalunya when Max spun its not good enough. Max can make mistakes and still win so yeah hes getting some extra stats because of it.
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