Sergio Perez shouldn’t expect any favours from Max Verstappen even if his career is dependent on him securing runner-up in the championship, that’s according to the F1 Nation podcast pundits.
Nearing the end of a season in which Verstappen has dominated to the point he can wrap up the title in Qatar with a P6 in Saturday’s sprint race, Perez has been the weak link in the Red Bull partnership.
With just two wins to his name and only four runner-up results despite sitting in the superior RB19, the Mexican driver’s saving grace has been that he’s held P2 in the standings throughout the championship.
Sergio Perez shouldn’t expect gifts from Max Verstappen
Although he’s a whopping 177 points behind his team-mate on the log, he still holds a 33-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton with Fernando Alonso a further 16 points back.
Last season he wasn’t able to hold off Charles Leclerc in the fight for P2, finishing three points off the pace after Verstappen, who had already wrapped up the Drivers’ title, outright refused to help him at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix by giving him a position.
That continued into the season-ending Abu Dhabi race when Verstappen said it wouldn’t have been nice of him if he’d deliberately held up Leclerc to give Perez a chance to attack him.
As such it’s no wonder Natalie Pinkham doesn’t see Verstappen gifting a Perez a win.
“I think the whole point of why Red Bull has been so dominant this season and Max, there’s a ruthless streak in both Max and Christian Horner,” she told the latest F1 Nation podcast.
“They’re hugely competitive people, they’re meticulous, they’re thorough, they have an incredible work ethic but crucially, there is that ruthless streak, which winners need and it isn’t about having empathy for who finishes second.
“What’s in it for Max to do that?”
Guest pundit, former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa, doesn’t see a reason for Verstappen to do so given he reckons P2 holds no importance, not even for Red Bull.
“It very much depends if helping your team-mate means that you are going to keep winning, that’s fine,” he said.
“But if you’re going to give away wins, just for the sake of helping your team-mate it isn’t good for the team. It’s not good for Max. It’s not good for anyone.
“But the question really is once Red Bull have already been crowned World Champion in the Constructors’ Championship and the Drivers’ Championship in a few days, is there really a need?
“Or what is it to finish second for Checo? Does it mean a lot? I mean, because if it means a lot, then I would understand maybe Max will help. But it has to mean something special for the team and for Checo to finish second.
“I personally think that finishing second doesn’t mean anything at all. You’re still finishing behind your team-mate, the team has already achieved the Constructors’ Championship so I wouldn’t give it too much importance being second.”
Is P2 vital for Sergio Perez’s longevity at Red Bull?
However, Tom Clarkson reckons if Perez doesn’t finish second in the championship, he’ll be out of Red Bull.
“I think for Checo it’s a huge thing to finish second,” he insisted.
“If he doesn’t finish second, in that RB19, the team will not look favourably. It’s sort of every time they look at the result sheet at the end of the year, they’re just going to be reminded of how Checo has misfired this year. And I think it could speed up his exit from the team.
“Quite frankly, I think his future at Red Bull might even depend on that second place.”
This has been alluded to by Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko who told Marca that he “has” to finish runner-up for Red Bull to honour their 2024 contract.
“We have a commitment to him. He has to finish second in the championship, we have a contract,” he said. “He creates the pressure for himself. Honestly, whoever is Max’s team-mate has a very hard and difficult life.”