Red Bull left ‘one-legged’ in F1 2024 title battle thanks to Sergio Perez

Oliver Harden
Sergio Perez grimaces as he removes his earplugs

Sergio Perez admits he neds to 'regroup' after back-to-back crashes

Damon Hill, the 1996 World Champion, has claimed Sergio Perez’s recent F1 2024 struggles have left Red Bull “a little bit one-legged” in the face of the growing threat from Ferrari and McLaren.

Having won all but one race in a dominant F1 2023 season, Red Bull had been hotly tipped to ease to another World Championship double in F1 2024.

Sergio Perez struggles leaving Red Bull on ‘one leg’ against McLaren, Ferrari

Yet despite winning four of the opening five races – including three one-two finishes as Perez came home behind Max Verstappen in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Japan – Red Bull have appeared more vulnerable over recent weeks, winning just one of the last three.

The rise of McLaren and Ferrari – winners in Miami and Monaco respectively – has coincided with an alarming blip for Perez, who has not finished on the podium since the Chinese Grand Prix in April.

The Mexican failed to reach Q3 at the last two races at Imola and Monte Carlo, managing just 18th at the principality on a weekend Verstappen could only manage sixth.

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Despite concerns that he could be entering another mid-season slump, Red Bull announced this week that Perez had signed a contract extension to stay with the team until the end of the F1 2026 season.

Appearing on the F1 Nation podcast, Hill has urged Perez to up his game to support Verstappen, who is nursing a 31-point lead over Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

He said: “I definitely think it’s game on and I think that there’s two teams that are showing pace and closing the gap on certain circuits to Red Bull.

“If you give Red Bull the right kind of track, I think they might be hard to catch but definitely Ferrari [and] McLaren are closer.

“Don’t forget they’ve both got two drivers who can attack. I’m not sure you can say that of Checo, so Red Bull are a little bit one-legged at the moment if they want to defend.

“Checo is going to have to really [improve]. It’s no good being three tenths away from Verstappen anymore, because so many cars can jump in that gap – the gaps have become smaller and smaller.

“So points wise you can see that it’s diminishing, Max’s run of total dominance seems to be faltering and there’s a long way to go.

“It’s such a long season. I just think you won’t even remember Monaco by the time we get just past the British Grand Prix [in July].”

The decision to retain Perez came as a surprise in some quarters, with outgoing Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz still searching for an F1 2025 seat.

However, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner stressed the importance of “continuity and stability” in the team’s driver lineup – and backed Perez to recapture his early F1 2024 form.

He said: “Now is an important time to confirm our line-up for 2025 and we are very pleased to continue working together with Checo.

“Continuity and stability are important for the team and both Checo and Max are a successful and robust partnership, securing our first ever one-two finish for the team in the Championship last year.

“Checo has had a strong start to 2024 with second places in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Japan and then his podium in China.

“The past few races have been tough, there is convergence on the grid, but we are confident in Checo and look forward to his return to proven form and performance, that we so often see.

“Last year was a unicorn season and we will need to work hard to retain our titles, but we are assured in our line up and with the team as a whole, which is imperative in what is shaping up to be a close fought Championship this year.”

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