‘Red Bull will be a little bit relieved by classic Sergio Perez reality check’

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen speaks with Red Bull F1 team-mate Sergio Perez. Bahrain, March 2023.

Max Verstappen speaking with Sergio Perez.

Peter Windsor, the Formula 1 analyst, believes there will be a “little bit” of relief within Red Bull after Sergio Perez’s poor Australian Grand Prix weekend took the edge off his rivalry with Max Verstappen.

After claiming his fifth career victory at the previous round in Saudi Arabia, Perez arrived in Australia talking up his 2023 title chances but suffered a day to forget on Saturday at Albert Park.

Having ran off track multiple times in final practice, Perez beached his car in the gravel before he had even set a time in Q1.

He recovered to fifth place on race day, but now sits 15 points behind his team-mate in the Drivers’ standings after Verstappen’s second victory in three to start 2023.

Speaking via his YouTube channel, former Williams and Ferrari team manager Windsor feels that Red Bull’s management will be quietly pleased by Perez’s mistake after a tense encounter between their drivers in Jeddah.

He said: “I think, in reality, Red Bull were actually quite relieved that that had happened because he came from Saudi Arabia as the winner of the race and he’d been saying things like, ‘I’m in it, I can win this Championship’.

“Woah. Hang on Sergio. Just take it cool, mate. You are number two to Max Verstappen basically.

“And I think this was like a reality check. Now you know you’re not Max Verstappen.

“I think there’s a little bit of that and there’s a little bit of relief at Red Bull with that because what they never need, and they’re so good at this, is that sort of ridiculous additional pressure on Max – the sort of pressure that [Oscar] Piastri puts on Lando Norris just by being super quick, the sort of pressure that George Russell puts on Lewis Hamilton just by being super quick.

“Red Bull [are] very wary of that and in a way [Perez’s Q1 exit] sort of dampened that down a bit.

“I got the feeling that they weren’t that annoyed by the whole thing.”

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After earning a two-year contract extension following his victory in Monaco last year, Perez claimed just three podium finishes in the following nine races as Verstappen stormed to his second successive title triumph.

With Perez disappointing in Australia straight after his convincing win in Jeddah, Windsor says this is becoming a theme for the 33-year-old, claiming the mistake revealed the difference in driving style between the Red Bull drivers.

He added: “You could look at this a little bit cynically and say there’s a bit of classic Checo here, coming off a win, coming off a great weekend, coming to Melbourne full of confidence but doing what he normally does and go slightly off the boil in terms of concentration.

“[He] made those mistakes when he couldn’t get tyre temperature in FP3 and then did the same at the beginning of qualifying.

“I think it’s a highlight of the difference between Max and Checo.

“Let’s put this under the heading of the RB19 being affected more by the tyre temperature problems [in qualifying] than most of the others cars and that’s a simple thing.

“It’s because the RB19, quite typically, is quite kind to its tyres.

“If you need to get the tyres to really work, get them energised, it’s a bigger job for the Red Bull drivers to do that than, say, the Mercedes and Alpine drivers.

“Checo was in this situation where he had to get tyre temperature and he’s a relatively late braker compared with Max Verstappen and he also brakes quite hard compared with Max Verstappen.

“I think, personally, that was his undoing and that is the difference.

“Checo’s absolutely brilliant with his right foot with the way he gets the power down, particularly out of slow corners, and possibly he still has an edge over Max in that area and we might well see that at Monaco again.

“But in terms of braking, Max has got a massive edge over Sergio Perez. We don’t talk about that very much, but it’s clear.

“Max is so good at massaging the brakes when he needs to and getting the car to look pretty boring on the lap.”