Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez may have finished 1-2 in the 2023 Drivers’ Championships, but they had very different seasons.
Verstappen added to his existing tally of two world titles by adding a third consecutive trophy to his collection in 2023, as he dominated the entire season to win 19 of the 22 races over the course of the year.
With Red Bull losing just one race, the Singapore GP, two of Verstappen’s defeats came early and at the hands of Perez – in Saudi Arabia and Baku – but an incredible statistic shows just how comprehensively the Dutch driver eclipsed his teammate over the remainder of the year.
Max Verstappen’s jaw-dropping statistic over Sergio Perez
With Perez’s season starting to crumble from the Monaco Grand Prix onwards, including a run of five Grands Prix in which he failed to make it into Q3, the Mexican driver eventually managed to claw his way to second place in the championship.
Having two wins and a second place from the first five races was a great start for Perez but, from there, he would score just five more podiums – a performance that allowed Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to come dangerously close to snaffling the runner-up spot away from him.
Canadian statistics spotter Daniel Valente did some post-season calculations and pointed out an incredible statistic showcasing just how differently the seasons of the two Red Bull drivers had played out – caused particularly by Perez’s qualifying struggles.
“Max Verstappen drove more laps in the lead than Sergio Perez drove in the top 10 in 2023,” Valente posted on X (formerly Twitter).
“Verstappen led 1003 laps, with Perez putting in 974 laps in the top 10.”
Here’s a wild stat. Max Verstappen drove more laps in the lead than Sergio Perez drove in the top 10 in 2023.
Verstappen laps led – 1003
Perez laps in top 10 – 974 pic.twitter.com/emLApJH1w3
— Daniel Valente 🏎️ (@F1GuyDan) January 5, 2024
Speaking to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Verstappen denied – as have Christian Horner and Perez himself – that the Red Bull RB19 was tailored around Verstappen’s driving style and requirements.
“I tune the car the way I like it,” Verstappen said.
“And the other driver tunes it to suit him. The engineers develop the car to make it faster. And not how I would like it to be.
“It’s the same with the driving style. What is your driving style? I don’t know.
“I adapt to the needs of the car to make it the fastest. That’s the key to being a really good Formula 1 driver. Adapting to what you get from the team.”
Christian Horner: We need Sergio Perez starting further up the grid
Perez is heading into the final year of his current contract with Red Bull and faces a stern challenge to impress his employers to the point where he secures a contract extension.
While sympathetic to Perez’s plight as being a teammate to a generational talent like Verstappen, Horner has given clear warnings to the Mexican driver that he needs stronger performances if he is to remain with Milton Keynes beyond 2024.
“Being Max Verstappen’s team-mate is a very, very tough gig,” Horner told Sky Sports. “I think that he’s shown real mental strength to be able to cope with that.
“Now the area that he needs to focus on improving next year is going to be Saturdays. Making sure that his average qualifying is a lot closer to Max because we know he can race and he’s got great pace, but we need him to be starting further up the grid.
“Particularly if the grid is going to converge then we can’t afford to have a lot of cars between Max and Checo. The car has been very attractive for other drivers to want to be in so we’re not short of options.”