Flavio Briatore: Sergio Perez form provides strong evidence in car v driver debate

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen speaks with Red Bull F1 team-mate Sergio Perez. Bahrain, March 2023.

Max Verstappen speaking with Sergio Perez.

Flavio Briatore believes Sergio Perez’s struggles show it is not all about the car when it comes to performance.

The argument that a driver is only as good as his car was one that was often thrown at Lewis Hamilton during his title-winning years and now at Max Verstappen as he continues to dominate in the RB19.

But one thing that is rarely mentioned is how often a team-mate struggles to perform at the same level as a dominant champion.

The last time two team-mates truly battled it out was in 2016 with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg but since then, one driver has always reigned supreme over his team-mate.

That, Briatore believes, is why arguments that success is solely down to the car are unfounded.

“The usual absolute supremacy of a driver, Max Verstappen, was staged at the Canadian Grand Prix,” Briatore told Il Riformista.

“His teammate Checo Perez, on the other hand, was far behind, demonstrating that not only the car must be good but the driver must also be up to the task.”

Briatore went on to say that the three podium sitters – Verstappen, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso – were a cut above everyone else on the track.

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“On Sunday we saw the three most important champions of Formula 1 on the podium,” the former Renault boss said. “It was a podium that elevated the three best powers and drivers of the paddock: the Dutchman together with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. They really are the best, incredible talents. Then come all the others.”

Briatore praised his good friend Alonso who said his performance proved Aston Martin are not too far behind Red Bull.

“Fernando Alonso did very well in the Aston Martin to finish 10 seconds behind Verstappen, a sign that the English green car has definitely caught up with the Red Bull, going even stronger than the Mercedes and nibbling away important tenths thanks to the upgrades received for the Montréal circuit.

“In the race Fernando passed Hamilton and managed to stay three-four seconds ahead of him until the end, thus controlling second place.”