‘All revolves around’ Max Verstappen claim made as Sergio Perez absolved of ‘blame’

Michelle Foster
Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen celebrate another double podium

Sergio Perez cannot be “blamed” for failing to challenge Lando Norris for second in Shanghai as “second or third” behind Max Verstappen is “fine” with Red Bull.

Despite sitting in the fastest car on the grid, Perez with his two-stop strategy was not able to fight back against Norris after giving up track position at the Chinese Grand Prix.

‘I don’t think he can really be blamed for anything’

Stopping for a second time when the Safety Car was deployed for Valtteri Bottas’ stricken Stake, Perez lined up for the restart behind Charles Leclerc, P3, Norris and race leader Verstappen.

It took him a handful of laps to pass the Ferrari at which time he was trailing Norris by four seconds with the consensus, based on Verstappen’s pace, being Perez would quickly close down the McLaren.

He wasn’t able to, Norris growing the gap to six seconds at the chequered flag to split the Red Bull drivers.

Allard Kalff is adamant Perez should not be criticised for the performance, after all, he still joined Verstappen on the podium.

“I don’t think he can really be blamed for anything, Perez,” the Dutch racing driver and commentator told Motorsport.com.

“This is what it is, right? He comes second or third and that’s fine in the end.

“But Max, he’s just been there from the very first moment… he’s there.

“If he drives behind someone and he has to overtake, he immediately does so in a very assertive manner. It is almost aggressive, but it is, I call it, assertive driving.”

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‘Max Verstappen is the man around whom it all revolves’

Perez’s third place at the Shanghai International Circuit had Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz declaring everyone knows why Perez isn’t able to match his team-mate, and that’s because the RB20 is designed to suit Verstappen.

“There is no doubt that the Red Bull RB20 is built around Max Verstappen. That we know,” he said in his post-Chinese GP Notebook.

“It’s better this year for Checo Perez arguably, Checo has had a better start to the season. But the way this car is designed to be so much on the nose, the slightest steering wheel input and it starts moving at the front and it’s so grippy at the front in the way Max Verstappen loves.”

Kalff, although not touching on the car debate, believes Red Bull “revolves” around Verstappen.

“You also have to know how to get the signals from that car. And that is precisely the difference between Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

“Perez is good, fine, top second driver. But ultimately he is a second driver.

“And Max Verstappen is the man around whom it all revolves. And that is also why Max has now become World Champion three times.”

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