Gerhard Berger denies there’ll be tension at Red Bull: Max is No.1 and Perez ‘knows that’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc greets Fernando Alonso with Max Verstappen also in the photo. Bahrain March 2023

Charles Leclerc greets Fernando Alonso with Max Verstappen also in the photo. Bahrain March 2023

Red Bull, and most notably Max Verstappen, are the favourites for this year’s title but Gerhard Berger has warned when it looks as if one team could have it all their own way “there is usually competition somewhere”.

Verstappen and Red Bull go into the new season as the firm favourites to retain the championship double with the RB19 setting the pace in pre-season testing.

Not only did the car, like its predecessor, show absolutely no sign of bouncing, but it was both quick and reliable.

But while all the signs point to another Red Bull party, Berger has urged a note of caution.

“You have to look at it with caution,” he told Krone newspaper. “They’re one step ahead, they’ve done a good job, and the car is stable too. That’s why Red Bull is my favourite.

“But”, he added, “it is also dangerous, when everything looks so clear, there is usually competition somewhere.”

PlanetF1 recommends

Fernando Alonso downplays hype: ‘Can’t eliminate the gap to top three in one week’
Lewis Hamilton dismisses Mercedes W14 Plan B talk as ‘complete rubbish’
Bahrain Grand Prix 2023: Schedule, stats, weather forecast, how to watch

But while Sergio Perez is hoping that competition will come from him, Berger has all but rubbished his challenge.

Speaking ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend Perez put Red Bull on notice, tell Fox Sport Mexico that “it’s always important to work as a team and obviously if I see that I don’t receive support when I need it, I won’t give it either.”

The 33-year-old’s comments were in response to last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, a race in which Verstappen refused to hand a position in his quest to finish P2 in the Drivers’ standings.

Perez fumed over that, but any talk of taking a stand won’t go well for him says Berger.

“There are no tensions,” said the Austrian, “that’s a clear story for Verstappen – and Perez knows that too.”

As for the rest of the field, the former Ferrari driver believes his old team has a car that is “really fast on one lap” but that tyre degradation is once again looking to be a problem.

“They have quite a bit of tyre wear on the front axle,” he added.

Like many in the paddock he’s billed Aston Martin as the team to watch, saying they look to be on a par with Mercedes.

“Aston Martin did a very good job and is a big step forward. They seem to be just behind or even on the same level as Mercedes at the moment.

“That’s probably because they got a good engineer from Red Bull. And I also rate Alonso very highly.”

But while Aston Martin can expect to make a big leap up the order, McLaren seem to be heading in the other direction.

“They don’t get up to speed, the departure of Andreas Seidl as team boss didn’t help either,” Berger said.