Pedro de la Rosa explains why Max Verstappen could retire before Sergio Perez

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen chats with Sergio Perez in Jeddah. March 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen chats with Sergio Perez.

Racing for midfield teams for most of his F1 career, Pedro de la Rosa believes Sergio Perez will have more desire to prolong his time in the sport than his team-mate Max Verstappen.

Verstappen, 25, has often spoken about the longevity of his Formula 1 career with the double World Champion making it clear he won’t be doing a Fernando Alonso and racing into his 40s.

In fact his current Red Bull deal, which runs until 2028, could be his last with the driver keen on pursuing other racing activities outside of Formula 1.

That’s in sharp contrast to Perez, 33, whose father recently stated he “will be in F1 for the next 10 years” such is his desire to succeed with Red Bull.

That, De la Rosa says, is because Verstappen and Perez have had very different careers in Formula 1.

Asked if Perez could be decide he’s ‘had enough’ when his Red Bull deal expires at the end of next season, de la Rosa told the F1 Nation podcast: “We don’t know really.

“I never look at how many years a driver has been in Formula 1. I look at their results, and also how hungry they are.

“Checo has proven to be a very consistent guy, always very hungry because he’s been in uncompetitive teams most of his career.

“So I think that one very important thing is, if you start your career in Formula 1, and are on a winning team, or you are staying at an early age of your Formula 1 career in a top team, it’s easy to lose interest or motivation towards the end. And that could be after five years, eight years or 14.

“But when you have been on the tough end, you appreciate what you have. And what Checo has right now is hugely interesting. He can wake up every Sunday morning thinking if I have a good day today, I can win this one.

“And this is something that we’ve been fighting all our lives to be in that position. So therefore, I don’t think that Checo will be tired of it, because he hasn’t had enough of it.”

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Backs Perez to stay on at Red Bull

The former driver turned Aston Martin ambassador also rubbished rumours that Perez’s days at Red Bull could be numbered with whispers he could even be out before the end of his contract.

With tension seemingly growing between the Mexican driver and Verstappen, F1’s rumour mill reckons reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo could in Perez’s car before too long.

De la Rosa though, believes Perez’s performances on the track prove he deserves the Red Bull seat.

“I really think that Checo will stay at Red Bull or should stay because he’s been getting stronger and stronger race by race since he joined Red Bull,” he said.

“And he’s proved that it’s not easy to adapt to a big team, to a car, especially with this new Formula 1.

“There are very few drivers that you throw them into a new car, a new team, and they just will perform, they will adapt themselves to the car. Most of the drivers need that cars to adapt to themselves.

“And I think Checo is an example, and he’s really now managed to adapt the car to his driving style. These new modern Formula 1 cars are really complex, you have no testing plus on top you need to play with what the engineers called the toys, which is the brake balance, the brake migration, the engine braking, the diff maps. It’s just pretty complex.

“So I think that now that Checo is performing so well, I don’t see like Red Bull considering changing him.”

Foresees a promotion for Lawson if Tsunoda or De Vries fail

The Spaniard also weighed in on Red Bull’s junior team, AlphaTauri, with Yuki Tsunoda billed by team boss Franz Tost as a future Red Bull driver while Nyck de Vries is making his debut this season.

But neither driver is confirmed for next season, with Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko making it clear they need to produce the results or they’re out.

De la Rosa believes Liam Lawson could then be the next Red Bull junior to step up.

“Then in AlphaTauri,” he said, “only time will tell because if Tsunoda and Nyck do a good job, they will continue. If one of them doesn’t do a good job there will obviously there will be a space possible from maybe [Liam] Lawson. Maybe I don’t know.

“I mean it will also depend on what Lawson does in the Super Formula. If you win every race, your chances are very high to step into Formula 1, no matter what category you are in.

“The thing I always said when I was doing Formula 3000 back in Japan, I said I need to win every race, only by doing that might I get the chance.

“But don’t think about what Tsunoda, Nyck or Checo are doing. Just give it all and make sure you dominate. It’s not enough to win nowadays to get a Formula 1 chance, you’d need to dominate. So that’s what Liam Lawson needs to do.”