Helmut Marko reveals key Sergio Perez F1 2024 change inspired by Max Verstappen

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Max Verstappen alongside Sergio Perez.

After a strong start to the F1 2024 campaign for Sergio Perez, Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko revealed that he now starts with the same set-up as Max Verstappen, rather than “experimenting”.

Perez has carried a great deal of pressure on his shoulders into the new campaign as he bids to secure a fresh Red Bull contract, a mission which has started in ideal fashion.

Sergio Perez starting with same base as Max Verstappen

While Verstappen has kicked-off his season with back-to-back victories in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Perez has held up his end of the bargain by ensuring that both were one-two finishes for Red Bull, as their RB20 sets the early pace of F1 2024.

Perez lost his way in dramatic fashion after a strong start to last season, but Marko said there is a key difference this time around, that being that Perez is no longer “experimenting” with his set-ups and rather following Verstappen’s lead, the three-time World Champion having established himself as the dominant force of F1 in Red Bull machinery.

“This year he is no longer experimenting, but is starting with more or less the same basic set-up as Max,” Marko wrote regarding Perez in his Speedweek column. “There are just more nuances in which they set up differently.”

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Marko would then delve deeper into what Perez prefers in an F1 car in order to extract the best from it, which does not work in his favour at Red Bull.

Perez is a driver who likes a “good-natured” car according to Marko, who said this is why Red Bull’s 2022 challenger, the RB18, suited him. However this car, unlike Red Bull’s creations that have followed, “wasn’t fast”.

And to that point, Marko believes Verstappen’s ability to “cope better with a nervous rear end than anyone else” is the key difference-maker in his favour.

“Checo used to be fast with cars that were good-natured,” claimed Marko. “But good-natured cars are rarely fast.

“In 2022, it worked in his favour that our car was overweight. As a result, it had a more good-natured tendency with more understeer and a stable rear end. But it wasn’t fast – Ferrari was actually faster in the first half of the season. It was only strategy and [Charles] Leclerc’s driving mistakes that tipped the balance in our favour.

“Now our car is very fast, and the fact that Max copes better with a nervous rear end than anyone else is down to his extraordinary talent and makes all the difference.”

Verstappen heads into the upcoming Australian Grand Prix looking to equal his own F1 record with a 10th successive Grand Prix victory.

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