‘Even an old fart’ like Mark Webber could do Sergio Perez’s job in RB19

Michelle Foster
Helmut Marko speaking with Yuki Tsunoda and Sergio Perez. Britain July 2023

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko speaking with Yuki Tsunoda and Sergio Perez

Starting 15th on the British Grand Prix grid, Mark Webber has backed Sergio Perez to make up positions because even an “old fart” like him could do that in today’s RB19.

Perez suffered yet another nightmare qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit on Saturday when he dropped out in Q1, the Mexican driver’s time only good enough for 16th place but he will start 15th after Valtteri Bottas was disqualified for a fuel infringement.

While one could argue extenuating circumstances such as his nine-minute wait at the end of the pit lane for Q1 to get going after a red flag stoppage and the ever-improving track conditions, the end result was Perez failed to make it into the pole position shoot-out for the fifth race weekend in a row.

‘Sergio Perez has to sort qualifying out’

The disappointed driver admitted he was struggling in “changeable conditions”, saying that it was “something that we need to get on top of when we are able to do better.”

Former Red Bull driver Webber has backed him to do just that.

“I think it’s pretty clear that qualifying is his weakness, obviously at the moment,” the Aussie told Channel 4. “And also when there’s any change of conditions in the preparation build-up that make that more tricky for him to understand to get those clean laps in, he’s in all sorts of strife.

“So it’s a pack of cards. We’ve seen the qualifying Saturdays for him have not worked.

“Races, mate, anyone can move forward from there, even can I, that’s fine being an old fart like I am now.

“He has to sort qualifying out, he has to sort the mixed conditions out, and I think he’s going to be alright but at this level you have to deliver in all conditions.”

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His fellow former driver turned pundit David Coulthard reckons Perez has become his own worst enemy as he’s now in his own head over his qualifying troubles.

“I think it’s a little bit like getting the yips in golf,” said the Scot. “The more you think about it the more it becomes an issue.

“If you’ve actually lived this when we had the one lap single qualifying, I was fine up until Imola I think it was that particular season, made a mistake and then suddenly you’re like, ‘I can’t afford to make a mistake in the next one because it puts you out of position’. And then your mind is like that.

“That’s where Max is so good. He’s not even thinking about qualifying. He’s just driving quickly.”

But while they seem to have a bit of sympathy for Perez’s flight, he shouldn’t look to Christijan Albers for a shoulder to cry on.

“This has nothing to do with luck,” he told Dutch TV. “He has the same opportunities as everyone else, only he doesn’t do anything with them.

“The only thing is that Red Bull made sure he was in front, to make sure he could get away right away. That caused the tyres to cool down, which is not convenient.

“It’s nice to have good temperature. But then still you see that other drivers can bring the temperature in and he can’t.”

The good news for Perez in the midst of his woes is that Helmut Marko says he has no plans to replace the driver, at least not now.

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