July 23, 2024

Red Bull has dominated the 2023 campaign, winning all but one race so far to wrap up the constructors’ championship with six rounds remaining.

But while Verstappen has climbed to 13 wins – including 10 in a row between Miami and Monza – Perez has only had two wins, both coming in the first four rounds of the season.

Trailing Verstappen by one point after winning in Baku in April, Perez then suddenly went into decline, unable to advance to Q3 in five consecutive tournaments and 177 points behind his teammate.

The Mexican said last month his difficulties could be due to the Red Bull car being developed differently to his driving style for the second year in a row.

Antonio Perez Garibay has subscribed to his son’s comments, stating that Red Bull is fixated on allowing Verstappen to thrive.

“Checo continues to battle. The car is set for Max because he drives with all the grip at the front and Checo has done it all the time with the grip at the back,” he told ESTO.

“The position Checo is in is the one he was hired for, second place.

“There is only one champion and you have to understand that. He must work for it and respect it.

“All of this is built for Max to be champion and you have to understand and respect that. If he joins another team, he could finish fourth or sixth.

Speculation surrounding Pérez’s future at Red Bull has remained intense throughout this year.

Despite maintaining his contract for next year, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said there was no guarantee Perez would stay with Verstappen next year. But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner denied that Perez could leave the Austrian team early.

However, Horner has addressed that “there’s quite a bit of interest from certain sectors about driving a Red Bull car” for 2025, touting McLaren’s Lando Norris as an option.

Although Perez endured a nightmare Japanese Grand Prix weekend to walk away empty-handed, the ex-McLaren driver remains 33 points clear of third-placed Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ standings.

Horner is optimistic that Perez will rebound in the closing stages of the season.

“He’s got at least a one race weekend sort of [points] ‘buffer’ to Lewis and greater than that to Fernando [Alonso] behind him,” Horner told Sky Sports

“It’s something that we’ve never achieved; we’ve never finished first and second with any of our drivers in the world championship so it would be a big thing for us to achieve.

“He came close last year, it would be his best-ever result, and he’s got the best car that he’s ever had to be able to try and achieve that result.

“Japan was frustrating and difficult for him, but he’ll bounce back. I’m sure there’s enough races with the six grands prix remaining for him still to achieve some great results between now and the end of the season.”

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