Max Verstappen has expressed sympathy for his Red Bull colleague Sergio Perez as the Mexican faces mounting pressure over his F1 seat.
While Verstappen has had a year like no other, Perez, albeit with two race victories, has had one to forget. A run of five consecutive failures to reach Q3 was the lowlight in a season of struggles and one which, if you believe certain reports, has left Perez on the brink of losing his Red Bull seat.
But his current team-mate has defended his form, suggesting it is a “hard sport” and not one that always goes to plan.
Max Verstappen defends at-risk Sergio Perez
A 209-point gap separates the two drivers with five races left to go but Verstappen is a man used to seeing his team-mate struggle. Of the four drivers he has shared the Red Bull paddock with, Daniel Ricciardo is the sole team-mate to have left under his own accord with both Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon facing unceremonious demotions either to AlphaTauri or out of a seat altogether.
Perez’s future may well go the same way with question marks as to whether he will see out the remaining year of his Red Bull contract. Verstappen though believes he should be cut some more slack.
“At the end of the day, this is a hard sport,” he told ServusTV.
“We are of course team-mates, and we work well together, I already did that with Pierre and Alex [Albon]. Bottom line, you have to perform.
“It is difficult to say why different things sometimes don’t go exactly as they should.”
But while Perez cannot buy a win at the moment, Verstappen has insisted he is not getting bored of continuously standing on the top step of the podium.
“Winning is boring? No, not for me,” he said.
“This is the best possible: winning in F1! If I can no longer win, then I find it boring. I am very happy with Red Bull and hope that I can continue for many years to come.
“I am now much more experienced. In terms of pace, I was also fast in ’21, but perhaps I am a bit calmer now.
“The first title had already been won, the second too, so then you are a bit calmer and you also have a bit more life experience. That always helps.”