Has Sergio Perez slump eliminated final potential F1 2023 ‘downfall’ for Red Bull?

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez not happy in the Red Bull garage. Monaco May 2023

Sergio Perez not happy in the Red Bull garage. Monaco May 2023

F1 pundit Billy Monger feels the alarming drop in form for Sergio Perez may actually be a blessing in disguise for Red Bull.

Perez made his intentions clear to take a fresh shot at mounting a title challenge against Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen in F1 2023, and through the early stages of the season, it seemed like the Perez charge was on.

Claiming two victories in the opening four rounds with Saudi Arabian and Azerbaijan GP wins, plus the Azerbaijan sprint race P1, Perez was shaping up well to push his team-mate all the way in a title battle for the first time.

The key to that of course is consistency, and sadly recently it has all fallen apart for Perez, who is without a Q3 appearance or podium finish in his three most recent outings.

Having been just six points behind Verstappen after his Baku win, Perez is now 69 points behind the dominant Dutchman, though Monger does not feel that is necessarily bad news for Red Bull, who have accounted for all eight wins on offer so far in F1 2023.

Monger believed that a potential title rivalry between their drivers was potentially the last dynamic which could have caused the wheels to fall off for Red Bull, but now, the team can relax as that prospect appears out of the equation.

“It’s a well-oiled machine,” said Monger of Red Bull when speaking on Channel 4. “And I think, for me over the last few races, we’ve seen Checo his form dip a little bit, and it’s almost eased any tensions that team had.

“Now they just know that Max Verstappen is probably going to win the Grand Prix for them most weekends. Checo, they’re hoping he’ll get back up there, but there was a point early in the season where I thought that how close the two drivers were, that could be their downfall.”

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That being said, Monger says it will not be lost on Perez that it is “critical” to return to competitive ways against Verstappen if he wants to “keep his seat in such a prestigious team like Red Bull”.

And though Perez could take a glance at the team when it came to missing the dry tyre window in Canadian GP qualifying, sealing his Q2 exit, Perez’s lack of performance in the race was alarming, finishing P6 and 30 seconds behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who had started only one place higher on the grid.

Charles Leclerc, who started P10 in the other Ferrari, two spots up on Perez, finished a further three seconds up the road from Sainz.

It is a huge drop in performance for Perez which to Monger is “baffling”.

“I’m actually a bit baffled by it because at the start the season, the battle we had between Max and Checo, it looked he was going to be in the fight for the championship,” said Monger.

“He was really up for it and now he’s nowhere near Max Verstappen. Max has found another level and Checo has dropped off the boil.

“Not getting into Q3 with that car, the whole grid knows it’s the best car, Checo knows he’s got the best car. He just must be so frustrated and probably confused with where it’s all gone wrong for him recently.”

A double-header of home races now awaits for Red Bull, with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring followed by a trip to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix.