Ex-F1 driver Christijan Albers does not think much to the reputation which Sergio Perez has built for preserving his tyres.
Before his time at Red Bull, much of Perez’s career was spent battling in the midfield, featuring a sprinkling of podiums and even a race win with Racing Point at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.
During that time, Perez earned a great deal of praise for his ability to keep his tyres in good shape, this trait often helping to pick up results in that region of the grid.
Now though, Perez finds himself in a leading team with Red Bull, alongside the reigning World Champion Max Verstappen.
Earlier in the season Perez was performing at a competitive level compared to Verstappen, though the Dutchman has now established clear dominance over his team-mate again and is seemingly well on his way to a second World Championship.
The Belgian GP was particularly disappointing for Perez, as although he finished P2, come the chequered flag he was nearly 18 seconds behind race winner Verstappen who had started all the way down in P14 due to a penalty.
After the race Verstappen suggested that his tyre management skills often fly under the radar, while Albers does not buy into the belief that this is a strength of Perez’s driving.
“That it’s the deadly combination of Red Bull and Verstappen that makes the difference is painful for Perez,” Albers told De Telegraaf. “If I had been Perez, I would have kept my helmet on after that race.
“It’s also nonsense that Perez is a ‘tyre whisperer’. Max has had that under better control for several seasons.”
Nonetheless, that P2 finish lifted Perez into P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, meaning Red Bull drivers are now occupying the top spots.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko would like Verstappen and Perez to convert those positions into a final result, as it would be the first time that Red Bull had finished one and two in the Drivers’ standings.
However, he urges Perez to make sure that he is on the pace from the start of a race weekend in order to keep picking up these results.
“He has definitely improved, but he has to be fully there from the first practice session,” said Marko of Perez as he spoke to Sky Deutschland. “Maybe then we’ll manage a couple of 1-2s.
“That would be the first time we’ve finished first and second in the world championship. That’s our next goal.”
As for Verstappen’s all-conquering Spa performance, Marko hailed a perfect combination of self-confidence and ability, Red Bull having doubted their chances slightly heading into the race.
“It was easier than expected,” said Marko. “To be honest, we weren’t too sure of ourselves, but after the first few laps we saw that Max was significantly faster than the rest of the field.
“The ease with which Max is currently performing these services is incredible. It’s a combination of his self-confidence and the incredible driving class of Max Verstappen.
“Our engine is reliable and can keep up. Everything is fine at the moment.”