Sergio Perez dubs Red Bull rivals ‘bad losers’ over cost cap controversy

Henry Valantine
Sergio Perez looks concerned. Suzuka, October 2022.

Sergio Perez believes Red Bull did not gain a “performance benefit” after their 2021 cost cap overspend, and called rival teams “bad losers” for wanting to paint his team in a “bad light” in the aftermath of the verdict.

Red Bull’s $2.2million spend over the 2021 budget cap limit was revealed towards the end of the 2022 season, causing major controversy as the sport adhered to a spending ceiling for the first time.

Given this was the first offence of its kind, there were unknowns about the level of punishment which would be given to Red Bull for their breach of the limit, with Max Verstappen having won his first World Championship with a last-lap overtake on Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.

But a $7million fine and a further 10% reduction in CFD [computational fluid dynamics] capability and development time was the penalty for their breach, hindering Red Bull’s ability to upgrade their car next season.

Speaking to The Telegraph about the impact of Red Bull’s overspend on their 2021 title credentials back in Brazil, Perez was dismissive of any suggestion there was a material impact on the outcome.

“If you look at the facts, Max didn’t win the championship because of that. We didn’t get any performance benefit from it,” he said.

“Teams that want to take advantage of this by putting Red Bull in a bad light are just unfair. It shows that they are bad losers.”

Perez eventually narrowly missed out on second place in this season’s Drivers’ Championship after finishing behind Charles Leclerc at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, with Verstappen eventually taking the title by an enormous 146-point margin from the Ferrari driver.

His Red Bull team-mate maintains his belief that he can mount a title challenge of his own next season, however.

“Certainly I believe it. At the beginning of the year, if you look at it, I was matching Max,” Perez explained.

“It’s just about being more consistent. But I’m still learning. It’s my second year with the team. I believe I’m getting stronger and stronger.

“Clearly Max is really driving at a very high level this season, he got better from the last season so he’s obviously doing a fantastic job. I’ve got no problems with that.

“I just need to work hard, work closer with my team and try to beat him next year. I would not be in F1 if I did not believe I could do it.”

Read more: Mattia Binotto reflects on Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari ‘failure’ and decision to axe him