Jenson Button believes Sergio Perez’s inconsistency has already handed Max Verstappen the 2023 world title.
Such is the dominance of the RB19 over the other nine competitors, it has always seemed likely that the winner of this year’s Drivers’ title would be in Red Bull overalls but early on, there was not such a certainty over which one it would be.
Verstappen’s opening win in Bahrain was countered by a Perez victory in Saudi Arabia and after four races, the drivers were equal on wins.
Now things have changed quite dramatically since then with Verstappen gaining a stranglehold on the title. The Dutchman has been victorious in the last four races and enjoys a lead of 69 points over his team-mate.
Perez, meanwhile, has hit a rough patch of form including a P6 in Montreal.
It is that inconsistency that Button said “hurts” Perez.
“When Max sees his team-mate have a tough weekend, it just helps his confidence,” Button said, as per Autosport. “And three weekends – there’s no catching Max now, he’s gone, and the championship is definitely his.
“What happens to Checo? Hopefully, he bounces back. We all want people to take it to Max, we want to see good racing from Checo.
“He’s really quick, it’s just the inconsistency that definitely hurts him.”
Perez has another year on his Red Bull deal but with a Daniel Ricciardo shaped shadow lurking in the back of the garage, there are consistent questions about his future. It is not just Ricciardo gunning for Perez’s seat with Yuki Tsunoda also impressing at sister outfit AlphaTauri.
“At the end of this year, who knows? Who would you put in there? It’s a tricky one,” Button contemplated.
“Obviously, they have Daniel Ricciardo there as an ambassador, but I don’t know if they’re willing to put him in that seat.
“Do they take someone from AlphaTauri, and if so, who would it be? [Nyck] de Vries hasn’t really been as competitive as they thought and would you put Tsunoda in the A-team?
“It’s a tricky one for them, but I’ve got to feel for Checo. Three races on the bounce he’s been below par and that’s tough.”