Red Bull ‘pamper’ Max Verstappen, claims former F1 driver

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez in conversation with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen after Belgian Grand Prix qualifying. Spa, July 2023.

Sergio Perez in conversation with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen after Belgian Grand Prix qualifying. Spa, July 2023.

Trouncing Sergio Perez this season with 19 wins to two, Jean Alesi claims Red Bull’s F1 cars are “designed” to suit Max Verstappen’s “very special” driving style.

Much has been said of Verstappen’s battles with his team-mates in the past few seasons as he saw off Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon before Perez was called up in 2021.

But even the vastly experienced Mexican, a driver known for punching above the car’s weight, wasn’t able to keep pace with the triple World Champion.

‘It is certain that it is Max Verstappen’s car…’

In their three years together as team-mates, this year marked Perez’s heaviest defeat, emotionally and psychologically, as he went from dreaming of a World title to scrapping to save his career.

Struggling in qualifying and declaring he’d lost confidence in the car when he crashed in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, Perez managed just five podiums in the following 17 races while Verstappen secured 16 wins.

Their stats at the end of the season hugely favoured Verstappen with 19 wins to two, 575 points to 285, and 21 podiums to nine.

Former Ferrari driver Alesi reckons Verstappen has the advantage in their team-mate tussle as the driver is “designed” to suit his driving style.

“He did his best, but he suffers from the fact that Max has a very special way of driving, with a car with a very light rear axle,” Alesi told francetvinfo.

“It is certain that it is Max Verstappen’s car, which is designed for him. He is pampered in this team.

“Very good drivers like Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon were also his team-mates and did not succeed in driving the car.”

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Contrary to Alesi’s thoughts, Verstappen’s former team-mate Alex Albon recently touched on this subject and insisted Red Bull and Verstappen is not a carbon copy of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari.

Instead, he says Red Bull design the car as it is, but “what ends up happening is” that the development leans towards Verstappen because he is so very quick.

“The first thing is, a lot of people say that car is built around him, he’s kind of like the Michael Schumacher of Ferrari, he’s created this team around him,” he told the High Performance Podcast.

“Truthfully, the car is what it is. He is very quick, so what ends up happening is… He has quite a unique driving style, it’s not that easy to get along with.

“Everyone has a driving style, I would say my driving style is a bit more on the smooth side, but I like a car that has a good front-end, so quite sharp, quite direct. Max does too, but his level of sharp and direct is a whole different level. It’s eye-wateringly sharp.

“To give people kind of maybe an explanation of what that might feel like, if you bump up the sensitivity [on a computer game] completely to the max and you move that mouse and it’s just darting across the screen everywhere, that’s kind of how it feels. It becomes so sharp that it makes you a little bit tense.”

That would explain why Perez, having been in tune with the car at the start of the season, felt Red Bull’s 2023 upgrades were going away from him.

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