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Why Perez is proving to be Verstappen's ideal teammate in Formula 1

Why Perez is proving to be Verstappen's ideal teammate in Formula 1

3 October - 10:41 Last update: 10:51
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GPblog.com

Sergio Perez won the Singapore Grand Prix and that should really come as no surprise. Red Bull Racing's RB18 has been strong all year and if the Mexican can shine anywhere, it is on street circuits. He has already proved so frequently in his F1 career.

The man next to Verstappen

Perez is already on his 12th season in F1 and, at 32, he is no longer the youngest driver in the paddock, but is now experiencing the heyday of his career. Indeed, for the first time, Perez wins two races in one season and for the third year in a row, he wins a race in Formula 1. Despite facing a lot of criticism in recent months, he is showing that he does have talent.

Max Verstappen is the obvious front-runner within Red Bull Racing, let there be no doubt about that. There is no such doubt within Red Bull either, given Verstappen's contract through 2028. Verstappen shows his class at almost all circuits and is unbeatable for many teammates over a full year. Perez is doing better than all his predecessors, but he too has to leave a big margin over a full season.

Still, Perez is showing his value for Red Bull Racing. After all, the role of the second driver is to be there when the first driver struggles. Verstappen often gets towards the front, but on the occasions when that was briefly not the case in 2021 and 2022, Perez was there. In Azerbaijan in 2021, Perez was on the spot when Verstappen crashed, in Monaco in 2022 Perez took victory on behalf of Red Bull Racing, and again Perez was ready when Red Bull needed him in a way reminiscent of Rubens Barrichello.

Whereas Verstappen is generally much better than Perez when it comes to fast or medium-speed corners, Perez shows his class on street circuits. In slow corners, Perez can control the back of his car like no other and is very controlled when accelerating. As a result, on street circuits, he keeps his tyres alive longer than anyone else, and even mistakes made by Verstappen stand out, as Perez does not make them on such a circuit.

Perez's career

Three of the four victories Perez managed, he won on street circuits. Only the victory on behalf of Racing Point in Bahrain was on a 'normal' circuit. In Bahrain, however, his power in slow corners also comes in handy.

Going through Perez's career, it is striking that this is no coincidence. The Mexican grabbed several podium finishes for Sauber and Force India/Racing Point over the years, and often it was at similar circuits. In 2018, for instance, Perez finished third in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and also finished third in Monaco and the 2016 European Grand Prix (held in Baku).

In 2015, Perez finished third in Russia, another circuit that rewards drivers who drive 'clean', like Valtteri Bottas, Perez also scored well in Sochi. In 2014, Perez grabbed another podium in Bahrain, so a favourite circuit for the Red Bull driver. For Sauber, 2012 did see outliers. Malaysia is not the typical Perez circuit, but the drying conditions during that race suited his driving style as in Singapore. In Canada and Italy that year, Perez was also on the podium.

Verstappen will win everything in 2022, but over the years you cannot say that street circuits are among his best. In that respect, as Peter Windsor pointed out, Red Bull Racing has found an ideal driver duo in Perez and Verstappen. Few drivers will be able to keep up with Verstappen over an entire year, but if you do need a teammate, it is better to choose one who is good at races on a street circuit. Because then you can be sure you will win almost every race.

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