Analysis | Why Perez more than deserves another season at Red Bull

General

21 November at 11:40
  • Ludo van Denderen

On the one hand, there was the disappointment of missing out on second place at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, while at the same time, there was the pride of finally securing the second spot in the drivers' championship. Mission accomplished for Sergio Perez, after a year in which the Red Bull Racing driver faced buckets of criticism. But if anyone deserves to take a seat next season alongside Max Verstappen, it is Perez.

For months, Perez was asked the same questions: Did he fear for his seat at Red Bull? Was he sidelined after '23? In the end, Perez silenced all his critics. After all, the Mexican did what he was supposed to do: finish second in the championship behind an unapproachable Verstappen and at times when the Dutchman was not winning, take the win himself. Only in Singapore did a Red Bull driver miss out on victory.

Everyone - yes really everyone - agrees that Max Verstappen is an exceptional talent. Someone who knows how to get more than the maximum out of himself and the material. It is by no means a loss that Perez could not keep up with his teammate. Nor could drivers with more innate talent than the Mexican (Hamilton, Alonso). The points difference between Verstappen and Perez is huge though (276 points). That equals 49.7 per cent of the number of points the now three-time champion picked up.

Piastri and Stroll performed worse than Perez

Knowing that your teammate is basically your benchmark, Perez performed worse than, say, George Russell against Lewis Hamilton, or Carlos Sainz against Charles Leclerc. But he did better (for now) than the very highly rated Oscar Piastri versus Lando Norris - the Australian grabbed 45.6 per cent of Norris' points tally. Also, Lance Stroll versus Alonso (the Canadian has 36.5 per cent of the two-time champion's points tally).

Verstappen and Perez's RB19 is arguably the best car that has ever driven in Formula 1. Perhaps not. All analyses look at what Verstappen does with the Adrian Newey-designed car. But as said, Verstappen is supernaturally good, someone who would not be out of place in the ranks of Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Perhaps he makes the RB19 look even better than it really is, and Perez does know how to drive it at the limit. Only, then, Verstappen goes over that limit.

Mission accomplished for Perez

When Perez is measured against Hamilton, Sainz, Leclerc, Norris and Alonso, he has beaten them on all counts this season: more wins, more podiums (Perez was on the podium nine times) AND more points. How that accumulated those points, how Perez drove to the podium, it's all irrelevant. Formula 1 is a top sport. In this highly competitive world, you have to perform. Win. But when there is someone who is so much better than the rest - called Max Verstappen - you have to make sure you are second best.

And Lewis Hamilton failed to do that. Neither did Fernando Alonso. Charles Leclerc certainly did not. Sergio Perez did. Despite the constant criticism, the immense pressure, the distrust. Perez is the second-best F1 driver of 2023. He deserves to have another season at Red Bull in 2024.