Red Bull test driver highlights key difference between Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen congratulates his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez. Miami May 2023

Max Verstappen congratulates his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez. Miami May 2023

Rudy van Buren believes Sergio Perez was too slow with his overtakes at the Spanish Grand Prix on his way to fourth place as Max Verstappen would’ve at least come second.

Verstappen secured his fifth race win of this season at the Spanish Grand Prix, where the reigning World Champion cruised to the win by some 24s ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

It was a near-perfect weekend for the Dutchman who started from pole position, led every lap, took the win and also the fastest lap point.

“I think these are the dream weekends,” van Buren, Red Bull’s simulator test and development driver, told “P1, P1, P1, P1, so to speak.

“Max is apparently feeling really good and the package is just good. So yeah, how much better can it be yet? Yes, no? This is him.”

Verstappen’s form around the Circuit de Catalunya was in contrast to his team-mate Perez’s with the Mexican driver dropping out of qualifying in the second segment as he was only 11th fastest.

He was able to recover to fourth place but he lost out on a podium finish by three seconds to George Russell even though the Briton started the grand prix one place further back in 12th.

Perez declared after the race that he’d been too cautious in the opening stint with van Buren saying that’s not a good enough reason. recommends

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“If we take the example of Max in Miami, he didn’t do that either [take risks]. And then he ticked them off one by one,” he said of the Dutchman’s drive from ninth on the grid after car troubles in qualy to the top step of the podium.

Rather the Dutchman believes Perez’s problem in Spain was that he took “too long” to pass his rivals as he instead waited for “it to happen.

“I think if it had been the other way around, Max would have come to P2.”

Verstappen extended his advantage over Perez to 53 points with the reigning World Championship also taking the fastest lap point.

Despite being told by his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase not to push for it given he had been shown the black-and-white flag for exceeding track limits and that another moment would earn him a five-second penalty, he went for it.

“Boys will be boys,” said van Buren. “You can already hear him talking, and GP also knows it. It is a back and forth game after all.

“It was exactly the same in the Vettel’s years. ‘No, we are not going to do it.’ “I don’t understand you well.” And then do it anyway. As long as they have it under control, this is just laughter.”

Perez, though, won’t be laughing.

“Effectively, the gap is two complete victories plus the fastest lap,” van Buren said of his deficit. “Only the season is also long. Anything can happen.

“Are two failures a lot? No, not at all. It can also go against the odds, so that the gap is gone in one go.

“But the package is good, and as I said at the beginning: Max apparently feels very good. You can see that in everything. So yes, he is just good for it.”