Sergio Perez running out of Red Bull road after Mexican GP disaster

Sam Cooper
Sergio Perez

Red Bull have a choice to make over Sergio Perez.

If Sergio Perez drew up a list of things he did not want to happen at his home race, Sunday’s events would have ticked many of those boxes.

His crash in Turn 1 was a result of where he is at as a driver right now. He is a man desperate for any kind of result, a driver who has been so comfortably and relentlessly beaten by his team-mate that his confidence appears to be next to none.

Perez wanted a result, he needed a result, and it was that desperation that ultimately led to his early exit. After an excellent start, an experienced driver like Perez should have recognised that the space was not there. Sacrifice the battle in order to win the war.

Mexico was supposed to be Perez’s turning point. After a run of four races without a podium, and 15 without a win, the 33-year-old had pinpointed the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez as the venue where he would reverse his fortunes. With a passionate home crowd supporting him every step of the way, everything was there for Perez to do well.

Except, the one thing that has stopped him this season – Max Verstappen. His team-mate played only a minor role in Perez’s race-ending contact and yet it is Verstappen’s suffocating brilliance that has caused Perez to now falter at every hurdle.

Perez knew he was too greedy, too desperate for a good result, admitting afterward that if he had his time again, he would ease off and think of the battles still to come. But he didn’t and paid the ultimate price.

The Mexican ended the race with zero points for the third time this season but more than almost certainly losing his P2 to Lewis Hamilton, the implications are likely to be much longer lasting.

Red Bull want Perez in their seat for 2024. Perez wants to see out his contract but in the end, that may not be a choice either of them feel is possible.

The team have the luxury this season with Verstappen’s tally of 491 is enough to lead the Constructors’ on its own but after a year and a half of dominance, 2024 may finally see the rest of the grid pose more of a threat.

McLaren have made an incredible rise from backmarkers to podium mainstays, Mercedes have focused on 2024 but are still able to fight in the latter end of this year, Ferrari secured a one-two in qualifying.

2024 could well be another year of dominance but if Red Bull feel their title is not as certain as it has been the last few seasons, can they then say Perez is the right man to help them over the line? recommends

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Perez’s destruction has not been as explosive as the likes of Pierre Gasly’s but it is the drawn-out nature that has many thinking a demotion or removal is inevitable. Week after week, race after race he has fallen below expectations to such an extent that a failure to qualify on the front row in seven races has not even been a major talking point but rather an accepted norm.

To make matters worse, the heir apparent to his seat was busy scoring AlphaTauri’s best result in over a year. From the moment it was announced, Daniel Ricciardo’s return to Red Bull, first as a reserve driver and now at AlphaTauri, raised eyebrows.

A lacklustre few seasons at McLaren was hardly the kind of CV that would usually land a role in Red Bull but Mexico was the first time that the replacing of Perez with Ricciardo made sense. If Perez’s confidence looks shot to bits, Ricciardo’s will be as high as it has been since his McLaren win in Monza.

For their part, Christian Horner has insisted Perez will keep his seat in 2024 but surely now even the team principal’s mind is changing. The US Grand Prix is the only race in the last five in which he has scored double digits. In the same timeframe, Verstappen has scored 127 points, Norris has scored 90.

Helmut Marko has made no secret of his disapproval of Perez’s form and if the senior advisor had his way then there may already be a different name in that Red Bull second seat – but the Mexican crash was surely the last nail in the coffin.

The RB19 is the best car on the grid and in Verstappen, they have the best driver but as for their second driver, where does he rank now? Seventh? Eighth? Ninth?

Perez may well hold onto his seat for 2024 but if this version of the driver that has previously won six races remains, Red Bull will have no choice but to try something different.

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