Former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan reckons Max Verstappen’s 2023 rivals got off lightly, believing a lack of competition from team-mate Sergio Perez meant he did not need to hit 100 per cent.
Verstappen unleashed a record-breaking display of dominance in 2023, as part of a season where Red Bull took a remarkable 21 wins out of 22 grands prix.
Nineteen of those went the way of Verstappen, beating his own previous F1 record of 15 from 2022, while his run of 10 wins on the trot also set a new standard.
Max Verstappen avoided higher gears due to Sergio Perez
Rivals were often left to watch on as Verstappen disappeared up the road, a major frustration to the likes of seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton who was left out of contention to challenge for that magic title number eight for another season, but Jordan feels Hamilton and the rest got off lightly.
Claiming that from his experience, “a very strong team-mate is exactly what you want”, Jordan used that mindset to point out the lack of threat which Verstappen faced from Perez, which he believes meant Verstappen did not need to demonstrate his full capabilities despite the dominance achieved.
Speaking alongside 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard on the Formula For Success podcast, Jordan said: “I think a very strong team-mate is exactly what you want.
“And I just would like to say, with the same analogy, if Checo was quicker, I think we would have seen even a quicker Max, that’s the thing, because I don’t think he pushed himself.
“When Lewis is talking about 17 seconds down the road, that’s 17 seconds down the road without even having to be pushed!
“So now let’s put it in the right context, because it’s one thing [being] out there in the front, you’re minding your tyres, you don’t necessarily…as you [Coulthard] have always said, you win the race in the slowest possible time.”
Perez made a strong start to the season with two wins from the opening four rounds, but things quickly unravelled from there with several alarming slumps sparking rumours that Red Bull may not allow him to see out the final season of his contract in F1 2024.
Perez has kept his seat, but a crucial start is needed to retain Red Bull’s faith, though Jordan does not agree with the speculation that Red Bull would consider replacing Perez mid-season if he cannot get off to a strong start.
“Checo started the  season so well, those couple of wins early on,” said Jordan.
“And he probably was on a bit of a hype mentally, he probably felt so strong and then he suddenly realised that when Max kicked into gear, so to speak, and he found his real mojo, not that he ever really ever lost it throughout the season.
“He must be probably the most difficult team-mate that you could ever hope or wish to have.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Checo possibly being replaced. I personally don’t see that. He has a contract and I have a good idea the people in Red Bull are pretty honourable people through and through.”
Daniel Ricciardo is among those keeping a very close eye on Perez and Red Bull with a view to 2025.