Jos Verstappen thinks his son Max’s team-mate, Sergio Perez, is still far from the finished article at Red Bull.
Perez, brought into the team this year to replace Alex Albon, took some time to settle in but is now doing much more of what is required.
It did not get better than winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after Verstappen had crashed out due to a tyre failure, while Perez has only once finished out of the top five in races this season.
The main area the Mexican has not quite nailed yet is qualifying and Verstappen senior has pointed to “weaknesses” – even though the two drivers’ combined efforts have put Red Bull a healthy 40 points clear of Mercedes in the Constructors’ World Championship.
Of the partnership between Max and Checo, the 49-year-old Dutchman told Sport1, quoted by F1 Insider: “It works really well. Pérez has to improve a bit in qualifying to help Max. He still has a few weaknesses. So far he’s been doing a very good job.”
While his son recently claimed he would be “two tenths faster” than Lewis Hamilton in the same car, Verstappen refused to endorse that assessment and instead took a diplomatic line with his comparison between the two World Championship contenders.
“Lewis and Max are at eye level,” said the two-time Formula 1 podium finisher for Benetton in 1994. “It’s difficult to compare because they are in different cars. They are the two best drivers in Formula 1.
“Lewis has a lot of experience but Max has been with us for a long time. He’s been working with his own engineer for six years. Max knows what he’s doing and he can read the race well.”
Verstappen also touched on the rivalry between Red Bull and Mercedes, which has intensified this year to the point where each team is casting aspersions about what the other is doing to push the boundaries of the rules.
It has become personal at times too between Toto Wolff and Christian Horner. But Verstappen instead made reference to the needle between the Mercedes team principal and his outspoken fellow Austrian, Helmut Marko, the Red Bull advisor who is never short of a word or two.
“Helmut and Toto don’t like each other,” said Verstappen. “That is part of the game in competition. But I do not take part.”