Marko: Bottas is a loser when it comes to overtaking

Jamie Woodhouse
Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez raise bottles on the podium. Turkey, October 2021.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes and Sergio Perez, Red Bull, raise bottles on the podium. Turkey, October 2021.

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko says Sergio Perez triumphs over former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in the overtaking department.

Perez was brought in to the Red Bull team for 2021 as they searched for a driver who could support a Max Verstappen challenge for the Drivers’ title, while also scoring heavily enough to make Red Bull a Constructors’ Championship contender.

Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon previously had been unable to secure their future in the Red Bull seat, and though Perez did not reach the level of Verstappen in 2021, scoring 190 points to the World Champion’s 395.5, he did play a vital role in supporting the Dutchman’s successful title bid.

His robust defence at the Turkish and Abu Dhabi GPs against Verstappen’s rival Lewis Hamilton in particular were key moments.

Perez did though suffer regularly in qualifying, similarly to Gasly and Albon, leaving him on multiple occasions unable to get involved with the battle against Mercedes out front.

But Marko said this is where Perez differed to Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Bottas.

Perez was often able to recover through the midfield pack after a poor qualifying, while Bottas did pick up a fair bit of criticism for struggling to do the same when he had ground to make up.

“That’s the big difference between him and Bottas, who is a loser when it comes to overtaking,” Marko told AutoRevue.

“He’s super fast, but he can’t overtake in traffic.”

Sergio Perez's Red Bull during Saudi Arabian GP practice. Jeddah December 2021.
Sergio Perez's Red Bull next to the kerb during Saudi Arabian Grand Prix practice. Jeddah December 2021.

Nonetheless, Marko does now want to see Perez consistently qualify around the front of the grid, so that his racing quality can be used to battle for those top positions, rather than to limit the damage of an underwhelming qualifying display.

“If you start ninth or 11th, all the qualities he [Perez] undoubtedly has in the race won’t help you,” Marko stated.

“He’s driven at the same level as Verstappen in x number of races, [but] it just fizzles out by the time you’re through [the field].”

 

Marko explained though that by this stage, Red Bull believe that there is no Formula 1 driver who could match-up to Verstappen in qualifying trim.

So, to Marko’s mind, this highlights the ability of Perez to keep battling on, rather than breaking under that pressure.

“It’s clear to us that there is currently no driver who can stand up to Verstappen in qualifying,” said Marko.

“But then you need someone who won’t break – that has happened with Perez.”

 

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