Perez’s experience advantage shows ‘it was perhaps unfair on the previous two’

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Red Bull has reaped the rewards of signing an experienced driver alongside Max Verstappen following its prior reliance on youth, says team principal Christian Horner.

Sergio Perez, who joined Red Bull in 2021, is the most experienced driver to have ever raced for the team. He follows two drivers – Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon – who had made just 26 and 12 F1 starts respectively before they were placed alongside Verstappen.

Gasly was replaced after just half a season. Albon, who took his seat, lasted a year-and-a-half after he was dropped to make way for Perez.

“The key thing in the appointment of Checo was his experience,” said Horner. “It’s a bit unfair perhaps on the previous two guys to bring them in so soon. I think Checo with that experience, he’s been through some of the hard knocks and so on with his career until that point.

“What he’s brought to us is he’s a very rounded guy, he’s a great team player, he’s got a good outlook on the development of the car and he’s very easy to work with. So that’s all the reasons for taking him in the first place and he’s delivering on that.”

In his 45 starts with the team so far, Perez has claimed three wins plus 14 other podiums and he helped Red Bull win the constructors’ championship last year for the first time since 2013. He is set to surpass Daniel Ricciardo’s 58-race run as Verstappen’s longest-serving team mate this year.

Perez has proven he can deal with going up against a multiple world championship-winning team mate, says Horner. “He won two grands prix last year. He won a grand prix the year before. He was a key part in us winning the constructors’ world championship. And I think it’s tough for him having Max Verstappen as your team mate.

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“He is setting the barometer in F1 currently, but Checo is mature enough to be able to deal with it and handle that. He’s looking obviously to continue to evolve and improve his own performance as we’ve just seen in the last session. It’s good to see him looking competitive.

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2019
Red Bull dropped Gasly after 12 races in 2019
“Of course it’s not just about one race, it’s about 23 of them. And that’s going to be crucial for him. Because it’s not just about Max, it’s about [Ferrari’s] drivers and the Mercedes drivers, and the Aston Martin drivers, potentially. So you can’t dismiss anyone.”

Several of Verstappen’s former team mates are still on the F1 grid, with Albon going into his second season with Williams and Gasly driving for Alpine this campaign after spending three-and-a-half seasons with AlphaTauri following his demotion.

Ricciardo beat Verstappen in two of their three seasons together before deciding to leave Red Bull for Renault. From there he moved to McLaren, who paid him out of his F1 contract for 2023. He is now back at Red Bull as their reserve driver.

Daniil Kvyat took on reserve roles at several teams between his stints driving for Toro Rosso – with Verstappen actually replacing him at Red Bull back in 2016 just five races into the season – before eventually leaving F1 entirely. He raced in NASCAR last year and is set to drive for Prema in the LMP2 class of the 2023 World Endurance Championship.

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2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Ida Wood
    Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    17 comments on “Perez’s experience advantage shows ‘it was perhaps unfair on the previous two’”

    1. He is experienced and easy to work with.

      …The type of compliment no driver wants.

    2. Well, at least they realize it maybe was too much too soon for Gasly and Albon.

      Norris should have sufficient races under his belt soon..

      1. Norris should have sufficient races under his belt soon..

        I’m sure he’d be absolutely delighted to play second fiddle to Verstappen (there may be a slight amount of sarcasm in that statement)

        1. If you think Norris can’t beat Verstappen in equal machinery, I guess.

          1. Davethechicken
            9th March 2023, 12:29

            Riccardo beat Max in the same machinery. Lando beat Riccardo in the same machinery.
            Both Max and Lando being around the same age at the time they were teammates with Riccardo.
            Looks good for Lando so far…

            1. If only it was so simple to argue like that.

            2. I have seen them driving in the simworld as teammates and Max was the faster driver of the two. Daniel wasn’t faster then Max except the first year but more constant one.

            3. Itsmeagain (@)
              10th March 2023, 11:11

              Great argumentation. Ricciardo beat Vettel etc etc. You forget drivers can grow. Max beated at the end ricciardo. But than his fans will come with the sabotage conspiracy, the number of DNF’s etc.

            4. Davethechicken
              10th March 2023, 13:35

              I see what you mean, you are right of course. Riccardo would have likely “grown” by the time he partnered Lando the extra experience of battling Max and the his stint in Renault. Makes Lando’s performance even more impressive. Lando has still plenty of growth potential too!

            5. Itsmeagain (@)
              10th March 2023, 18:01

              Exactly, Norris will still grow too. Dannyric had his chance…. And his pockets full

    3. I always liked Daniil Kvyat. Shame he didn’t stick around and improve.

      1. Davethechicken
        9th March 2023, 12:35

        Might he have met the same fate as Mazepin and been barred from competing?

        1. Mazepin wasn’t banned from competing.

          His father and he himself were put on the EU list of people European companies can no longer do business with. On account of being friends of Putin, so. Kvyat has no such issues, as illustrated by him competing in WEC for Prema.

    4. To be honest I like the Red Bull approach. Not saying that there is no room to improve, obviously they had talents that are showing very descent performance in other teams, but couldn’t deliver in RB. However when all the stars align you get something really special – Vettel, Max, even Ricciardo. I don’t see a point driving in the Junior team for years and years, this could easily destroy your chances with top teams as well. RB brought more talent to the grid than any other team in the last 10 years and this is good for the sport.

    5. A racing driver, contracted to one of the best(of all time) teams in F1, being paid millions, driving stupendously fast & expensive cars around circuits/tracks all around the world, recognisable to millions(maybe not to billions like Senna or Schumacher etc)… isn’t a person that would invoke any sympathy from someone so insignificant like me.

      Yet, I felt a tinge of sympathy for Perez, reading this article.

    6. If you take away the two incidents with Lewis, both of which Lewis was held primarily at fault for by the stewards, Albon would have four podiums, including a win. 4 podiums vs 5 with a few more races and a significantly less competitive car. There’s an argument to be made regarding awareness/risk, but I can’t help but feel that without those incidents (which he wasn’t to blame for) he would’ve been kept on. The confidence boost from a win at the 2020 season opener may have also improved his confidence in the following races. Either way I’m glad to see he’s making the most of his second chance.

      1. I mean if you ignore all the other results where Albon was struggling in the midfield, I suppose the argument could fall Albon’s way, but I don’t think that’s fair to Perez.

    Comments are closed.