Sergio Perez singled out for ‘going missing’ with crucial data not collected

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez explaining to Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has six wins for 2024, Sergio Perez has none

Facing a two-pronged attack from McLaren and Ferrari, Ernest Knoors believes Sergio Perez “cannot help” Max Verstappen while Jan Lammers called him out for going “missing” in Imola.

On a weekend when Red Bull suffered a few niggles as they tried to find the perfect set-up with the updated RB20, Verstappen put his car on pole position but Perez couldn’t even make it into Q3.

‘Sergio Perez cannot help his team leader’

The Mexican driver was bumped out of qualifying by Daniel Ricciardo and lined up down in 11th place.

While his team-mate Verstappen faced the prospect of having to take on McLaren and Ferrari’s drivers, it was the “Max factor” that helped the Dutchman to his fifth victory of this season.

Perez, who could only recover to eighth place where he was behind the Mercedes drivers, was no help on the day.

“Perez also showed that last year,” NOS analyst and former Bridgestone engineer Knoors said. “He cannot help Max in crucial races. You have two teams with two cars that can put pressure on Max.

“Perez cannot help his team leader.”

Key takeaways from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

👉Imola GP conclusions: Max Verstappen the warbot, McLaren’s progress and more

👉Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix driver ratings: Masterful Max and Stroll outshines Alonso

Sergio Perez’s woes also affecting Red Bull’s data gathering

His fellow pundit Lammers agrees, but he feels the problem goes further than Perez playing a supporting act in the races, it’s also impacts the team’s ability to gather data when one car is off the pace.

“Verstappen misses Perez very much,” said the former F1 driver. “You want data. McLaren has very accurate data with their drivers. Red Bull has one car to look at. They couldn’t do much with Perez.

“They’re probably glad they got through this weekend. Now they can see in the data where the updates work and where they don’t.”

Knoors says that was evident on Friday when Verstappen was struggling with his RB20 throughout the practice sessions.

“The key is on Friday,” he explained. “Then they had a car that wasn’t working and they had to try to get the car back into the right set-up.

“They also didn’t do a long run on the hard tyre they used for the second part of the race.

“You see that that knowledge was not available at Red Bull and so they could not do anything to manage that properly [in the race].

“McLaren managed that better with Piastri and Norris and so Norris was able to apply pressure.”

But while Viaplay’s Tom Coronel applauded the “Max factor” in the reigning World Champion’s latest victory, he questions how long Red Bull can stay ahead when they’re playing with just one card at a time when McLaren most notably are edging closer.

“Perez was almost a minute behind,” he said. “You can see that it is not easy and that the Max factor has really helped for Red Bull.

“They must wonder how they are going to keep this up for the entire season, because they no longer have the upper hand.”

That, though, “is very good for the sport” concludes Coronel.

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