Harsh criticism from a former Red Bull driver of Pérez: “Measures must be taken”

Harsh criticism from a former Red Bull driver of Pérez: “Measures must be taken”
Harsh criticism from a former Red Bull driver of Pérez: “Measures must be taken”

Despite not having finished on the podium since April and not being in the top five of the drivers’ championship, Pérez managed to renew his contract with Red Bull until at least 2025, a decision that many question and which, over time, has generated more doubts.

“Everyone is wondering why he has been given a new contract. And why he is not being replaced,” former Red Bull driver Robert Doornbos told Motorsport.com. “Because what Perez is showing is not worthy of Red Bull. In the past, no one has been given as much time as he has.”

“Red Bull are very undecided about what to do with him,” Doornbos continues. “There have been youngsters who have been promoted to the A team and then dropped mid-season to give someone else a chance. But Perez’s situation is obviously slightly different,” he points to the fact that the Red Bull driver has been in the A team for a long time. Guadalajara He brings with him a lot of sponsorship money. “Red Bull still had a big lead over the rest in the last few years, so it was no big deal if Perez was three-tenths slower than Max. But now all those other teams are competitive too, so three-tenths can now be the difference between first or sixth. Only he’s not three-tenths behind anymore either, as he’s been way behind for six or seven weekends now. Especially in qualifying, which gives him less chance of scoring points.”

Motorsport.com has learned that Sergio Perez’s contract includes a clause stating that he cannot be more than 100 points behind Max Verstappen at the start of the summer break. However, his gap to the Dutchman is currently 137. Another clause would state that Perez must be no more than five places behind Verstappen, although it is not entirely clear whether this refers to five places in the world championship standings, or whether he must not finish more than five places behind Verstappen in three consecutive races. In the championship standings, Perez is now sixth, while he has only finished five places behind Verstappen in the last three races in Austria, after the world champion suffered a rear puncture in his collision with Lando Norris.

If it were up to Doornbos, Pérez’s departure would be imminent. “I think that as team boss you say: we are going to activate the clauses that we put in the contract. Otherwise, why do you put them in a contract? These things are there for a reason. And what we are seeing at the moment is seriously bad, yes. Of course it would be sad for Pérez. But elite sport is tough as nails and in Formula 1 there are only 20 places. You either eat or you get eaten. I think they have given him enough time and now they should take real action, because for Red Bull it is also very important to win the constructors’ championship.”

Perez finished the British Grand Prix last Sunday in a lacklustre 17th place after spinning in Q1 in qualifying the day before. “I felt embarrassed when I saw him standing in the gravel and heard him asking to be pushed out of the gravel. It was heartbreaking. We saw a top athlete who has completely lost his way. He must have felt that he could have wasted his last credits with the team.”

Lawson, Tsunoda or Ricciardo to replace Perez at Red Bull?

If Red Bull were to drop Perez, who should take the seat next to Verstappen? Doornbos says: “Red Bull is really struggling with that issue at the moment. Because of course they were expecting a completely different scenario. Daniel Ricciardo was going to make things difficult for Yuki Tsunoda, but we haven’t seen that yet. So it would be unfair to give him the promotion, even if he could do better than Perez.”

“I would take Liam Lawson,” the former Red Bull Racing and Minardi driver hinted. “If he does a good test with the RB20 at Silverstone on Thursday: put him in! Or give Yuki a chance at Red Bull, which would be very good for Honda. On the other hand: at Red Bull there is a very different pressure than at the RB F1 team. And someone who knows how to deal with that is Daniel Ricciardo. So yes, it is a very difficult choice. I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.”

Despite Tsunoda having performed better overall than Ricciardo this year, Red Bull do not see the Japanese as a contender for a seat in the main team. “That is certainly strange,” admits Doornbos. “But with Yuki there are sometimes terrible weekends in between. Overall, he may be having a very positive year, but there have also been some crazy weekends lately, which makes you doubt yourself as a Red Bull driver.”

Something needs to be done, Doorbos argues. “If they don’t do anything, winning the constructors’ title is going to be very difficult, given how McLaren always scores a lot of points with two drivers. And if they come up short of that title, they’ll be hitting themselves in the head, because Red Bull could go on a huge run by becoming constructors’ champions for a third year in a row. And that’s big business, too. And I’d say Perez’s sponsorship money can’t compete with that, if that’s the only reason he’s still in the seat.”

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