Perez not bothered by ‘easy teammate’ claims

Sun, 9 June 2024, 10:01

Jun.9 (GMM) Sergio Perez has fended off suggestions he has only been retained by Red Bull because he is a comfortable and harmonious teammate for Max Verstappen.

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve declared in Montreal that the Mexican is a clear ‘number 2′ driver – in the mould of Michael Schumacher’s former deputies like Eddie Irvine or Rubens Barrichello.

When asked by RTBF to comment on the suggestion that he is a comfortable number 2 designed to keep Verstappen happy, Perez said in Canada: “The only thing that interests me is to close the visor and do everything in my power to do my career to the best of my ability.

“When I retire, that’s the only thing that will matter to me – not what people thought of me. Everyone has their own opinion,” he added.

Verstappen is on the front row for Sunday’s Canadian GP, while Perez did not even make it out of Q1.

“It’s not the car,” Red Bull’s F1 consultant Dr Helmut Marko told Servus TV, “you can see that with Max. I think it’s more psychological.

“When the conditions change, it is much more difficult for Perez, but the fact that it is already the third time that he is not in Q3 is painful.”

There is no doubt, however, that Red Bull’s dominance is now over. McLaren and Ferrari have won races in 2024 so far, and now Mercedes’ George Russell is on pole in Montreal.

“I think that when we get back to a track with a lot of cornering speed, then Red Bull Racing will be very strong again, for example in Spain,” Mercedes technical boss James Allison is quoted by Speed Week.

“But from the looks of things, their latest upgrade to the car was more of a downgrade, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that they screwed it up badly.

“When you no longer trust your own tools, you have to backtrack and you can’t afford that in Formula 1,” he added.

Triple world champion Verstappen agrees that Red Bull’s period of dominance is now over.

“Absolutely. Things are just not going well at the moment,” he is quoted by NOS in Canada, referring not only to Mercedes’ superior pace but also technical problems in practice.

“I think we try to keep a close eye on everything, but sometimes you have a moment in the year when things are not going well with all kinds of small problems,” the Dutchman added. “At the moment we don’t seem to be able to stop it.”

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