Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle says it was like Max Verstappen was driving a “different car” as he caught and passed Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez at Spa.
This is a statement which he knows will be jumped on by the “conspiracy theorists” who question whether Verstappen and Perez have equal machinery.
Verstappen started from P6 on the Belgian GP grid after a five-place grid drop for taking a new gearbox, but by Lap 17 he was taking the lead from Perez and went on to win with a margin north of 22 seconds.
Martin Brundle feeds Max Verstappen “conspiracy theorists”
Taking the fight to Verstappen as his Red Bull team-mate has proven to be an almighty challenge over recent seasons, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon losing their spots in the Red Bull line-up for failing in that regard, while Perez has seen his F1 2023 title challenge fall apart with Verstappen now on a run of eight wins in a row.
And during the Belgian GP, Brundle feels Verstappen was so in-tune with the RB19 that it was making Perez look like he was driving a totally different car.
“Perez in the other Red Bull was 22 seconds behind, such was Verstappen’s command over his ever-willing car,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky F1.
“When Max caught Sergio it was as if he was in a different car (that one is for the conspiracy theorists to seize on) because he was able to take tighter lines and still get better exit traction.
“He’s found a way to carry speed while continuing to babysit the Pirellis. It’s a touch, feel, and finesse that’s very difficult to learn and achieve in my experience.”
Verstappen has now opened up a mammoth 125-point gap over Perez at the top of the Drivers’ standings as he marches towards a third World Championship crown in as many seasons.
And Perez’s task to slow the Dutchman down certainly does not get easier after the summer break, with Verstappen’s home race, the Dutch Grand Prix at Circuit Zandvoort, the first point of call when Formula 1 awakens from its summer slumber.