Red Bull blocked Sergio Perez plan to get F1 2023 challenge back on track – report

Oliver Harden
Sergio Perez walks away from his stricken Red Bull RB19 after crashing out of FP1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Sergio Perez walks away from his stricken Red Bull RB19 after crashing out of FP1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Red Bull rejected Sergio Perez’s proposal to get his F1 2023 title challenge back on track by reverting to the pre-Spanish Grand Prix version of the RB19 car, it has been claimed.

Perez enjoyed his best-ever start to an F1 season in 2023, winning two of the opening four races in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan, but his Red Bull seat has come under severe threat in light of a dramatic mid-season implosion.

The Mexican endured a run of five consecutive rounds without a Q3 appearance between Monaco and Britain, but appeared to steady the ship by claiming four podiums in six races either side of the summer break.

Sergio Perez asked Red Bull to revert to pre-Spain spec

However, Perez’s tally of just five points in the last three races in Singapore, Japan and Qatar has seen his place in the team for next season come under ever-increasing scrutiny despite having a contract until the end of the 2024 campaign.

With Perez claiming that Red Bull’s development has swayed away from him and towards team-mate Max Verstappen, who clinched his third successive World Championship in Qatar, it has been suggested that the 33-year-old’s attempts to close the gap to the Dutchman were turned down by the team.

With Perez producing his best performances at the start of the season, a report by German publication Auto Motor und Sport claims he approached the team with a request to return to the pre-Barcelona RB19 during his mid-season struggles, with Red Bull rejecting it on the basis that no team brings two different cars to grands prix.

Red Bull had introduced a new underbody at June’s Spanish GP, the seventh round of the season and, crucially, the second race of Perez’s sequence of five races without a Q3 appearance.

While Verstappen responded well to the upgrade – claiming the third victory of his record run of 10 consecutive wins – Perez found the car no longer suited to his driving style in a repeat of his troubles in 2021/22, even though on paper the new floor made the RB19 a faster car overall than at the start of the season.

The report adds that Perez fell into a “vicious circle” in the weeks after Barcelona, attempting to recapture his early season form by making the car easier to drive through setup changes but in turn making it slower.

Perez felt his mid-season crisis was over after finishing second behind Verstappen at Monza last month, but the events of the last three races have revealed that his confidence was misplaced. recommends

F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

All the mid-season driver swaps Red Bull have made in their F1 history

According to the report, the situation facing Perez has been likened by Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko to Pierre Gasly’s struggles alongside Verstappen in the first half of 2019.

Promoted from Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso for 2019, Gasly experienced a bruising 12-race spell as Verstappen’s team-mate and became increasingly fixated on suspension setup tweaks in a desperate attempt to improve his performance.

The Frenchman was brutally dumped by the team after Red Bull ran out of patience at the halfway stage of the season to make way for Alex Albon, who in turn was demoted to a reserve role 18 months later as Perez was signed as Verstappen’s team-mate.

Despite suggestions that Perez could lose his seat as soon as 2024, Red Bull remain convinced that Perez “is still the same good racing driver” they appointed almost three years ago with his psychological state seen as his main problem currently.

Red Bull have “simply told Perez to clear his head” in order to achieve the team’s ambition of having their drivers finish first and second in the Drivers’ standings for the first time in the team’s history, with the Mexican’s future set to hinge on his ability to see off Lewis Hamilton in the fight for P2.

Perez is said to be aware “that he will face a problem” in terms of retaining his seat if he is unable to hold on to second place in the Championship.

In August, Perez opened up about his struggles with Red Bull’s development direction, telling Sky F1: “For a driver, it’s really difficult to be adapting to the car instead of just things coming naturally.

“The last few races, I’ve been a step or two behind and always thinking consciously how I have to drive the car, sometimes with how the car has been developed doesn’t really suit me as much so I have to work harder for it.

“You’ve won two races in the first four and then all of a sudden you feel: ‘Argh, this weekend [it] doesn’t feel like it did before.’

“So you’re losing confidence because you are not fully confident with the car, and in F1 if you’re not fully confident with the car up to 250kph into a corner then you are doubting a little bit more.”

Read next: Ranked: The five drivers fighting for Sergio Perez’s Red Bull seat