A dissolution foretold? Checo Pérez is mentally exhausted


Will Sergio Pérez, mentally broken, stay at Red Bull until 2026?
14 June at 09:45
Last update 14 June at 09:45

Helmut Marko said it following Sergio Pérez's dismal race weekend result in Canada, the Mexican's problem is psychological. And how can he deny it? His team-mate matched his pole time and also won the Grand Prix on Sunday, while Perez was eliminated in Q1 and ended up dropping out of the race and receiving a three-place grid penalty for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Mexican was defended by Christian Horner, current Red Bull Racing team boss, alluding to 'Checo's' supposed mental toughness that just when you think he's on the ropes, he surprises you. But, his poor form is not a slump, it's already been a marked trend since 2023. While the driver of the number 11 car is not the best on the grid, he has always had the reputation of being one of the best mid-pack talents. Why is he experiencing his worst years in F1?

He's mentally broken

The Monaco Grand Prix saw an inexplicable manoeuvre. Fighting for P17 with Kevin Magnussen, the Mexican repeatedly checked his mirrors to see where the Dane and his Haas team-mate Nico Hulkenberg were. He checked his mirrors one last time to see where Magnussen was, and when he saw that the Dane was going down the inside he inexplicably closed up, causing a big crash on the first lap of the race.

Perhaps he didn't want to spend Sunday in the principality behind a Haas, but was it really necessary to take a fight for P17 to such depths? The incident ended up costing Red Bull approximately two and a half million euros. In a Constructors' title battle like the one Red Bull is locked in with McLaren and Ferrari. This simply cannot be justified.

It was akin to the equally astonishing manoeuvre at last year's Mexican Grand Prix when he saw Leclerc in his mirrors and crossed like nobody was there, causing him to DNF in his home Grand Prix. Anxiety, lack of judgement, and nervousness. These are all signs that the Mexican driver has already cracked under the pressure.

Frustration seeps through the cracks.

We saw him in Monaco and then in Montreal, Sergio Perez, crying in frustration after being eliminated in Q1. That is not the image of someone who is enjoying doing what he loves. It is clear that the pressure has got the better of him and that the Mexican's mental state is precarious. To make matters worse, there is now talk that the extension of his contract with the world champion constructor is only for economic reasons, i.e. he is a driver for pay. Checo' is on the ropes, and it doesn't currently look like he will be able to turn the tables any time soon.

Being at Red Bull, dealing with the expectation, accepting that Max Verstappen is vastly superior, having the responsibility to improve, but in his fourth year with the Austrian team still not adapting to the car philosophy of the current constructors' world championship leaders, while in Mexico everyone wants and expects - against all odds - to see him champion, and then his personal aspirations...

It's not easy to be Checo Pérez at the moment. Especially when there is already talk of clauses in his contract in the media. Such clauses would see the Mexican leave Red Bull before the end of his newly signed commitment. F1 journalist Joe Saward reported last winter that there was a clause in Daniel Ricciardo's contract that would see him move to Red Bull at the expense of Perez, with Liam Lawson taking the Australian's place at Visa Cash App RB if Perez's performance was below par. So far, the Mexican is falling well short.

Titles for Red Bull and Verstappen, and Perez's future at risk.

Yes, Perez can turn it around, sure, and he must to some degree feel that possibility exists, otherwise, there would be little point in continuing to get in the car every race weekend. However, this year there are three teams who know they can beat Red Bull, and there are six drivers who have finished ahead of him in the last three Grand Prix weekends.

Today more than ever it is clear that Red Bull is at risk. With Perez's sub-par displays this also adds extra and unnecessary pressure on Verstappen, who said that after seeing Perez's Q1 elimination in Montreal, he knew he would have to push as hard as possible to pick up maximum points for himself and the team.

With the exception of Mercedes, Red Bull has scored the fewest points of any team in the last three races - and that's despite Ferrari's double DNF in Canada. Red Bull needs a second driver to perform to secure not only the Constructors' World Championship but also the Drivers' World Championship.

McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes are doing their homework and catching up with the Austrians, who have implemented at least two upgrade packages that have left much to be desired. If Red Bull cannot hold on to the lead, then both contending titles are suddenly no longer as secure as they seemed after Bahrain.

If that's the case, then it's not hard to imagine the Austrian outfit saying thank you. It will matter little how much money the Mexican brings in in the form of merchandise sales and sponsorship if he can't help Red Bull achieve its goals, his main job as the team's driver. The night is coming for the Mexican driver, he needs to wake up and wake up now. His future depends on it.