Sergio Perez can be more of a help towards Max Verstappen’s title quest than Valtteri Bottas will be for Lewis Hamilton because the Finn is “simply too slow”.
That’s according to Formula 1 champ Jacques Villeneuve.
Although neither Perez nor Bottas were covered in glory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, it was Perez who at least showed pace even if he struggled to keep his RB16B pointing in the right direction.
He qualified P2, the first team-mate since Daniel Ricciardo to beat Verstappen in a qualifying session, while Bottas was P8 on the grid.
Perez struggled in the wet in the grand prix, slipping and spinning, which cost him positions with Bottas just showing on pace on the day.
As such the Finn was languishing in ninth place when he was attacked by the Williams of George Russell. That move ended in tears with both drivers in the gravel and out of the race.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff slammed Russell for the crash, jokingly threatening the Mercedes junior with a demotion to the “Renault Clio Cup”.
Villeneuve, however, says the blame belongs with Bottas – for making a “short” jab and also for being so slow that he was open to an attack from a Williams.
“I don’t quite understand Toto Wolff,” he told F1-Insider.com. “Why does he blame the young Brit in the collision with Mercedes junior Russell?
“Bottas knew exactly that his potential successor was about to overtake him and risked a serious accident with his short move to the right.
“He mustn’t do that under these difficult track conditions.
“But this shows how tense Bottas is already in the second race of the season. And that’s not going to get any better. Because he is simply too slow.
“If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have had to defend his position so over-hard against a Williams.”
Ride onboard with George Russell as he and Valtteri Bottas collide in a scary high speed accident 💥
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) April 18, 2021
The 1997 F1 World Champion believes the Imola performance shows that Verstappen has a much better ally in Perez than Hamilton has in Bottas.
“Perez is the newcomer to the Red Bull team and yet is already stronger than Bottas, who is in his fifth season with Mercedes,” he added.
“Perez can help Max more than Bottas can do for Hamilton.”