Sergio Perez’s dad shuts down talk of Max Verstappen favouritism at Red Bull

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez staring in the Red Bull garage. Bahrain February 2023

Mexican driver Sergio Perez staring in the Red Bull garage. Bahrain February 2023

Antonio Perez has rubbished suggestions that his son, Sergio, is Max Verstappen’s wingman at Red Bull, Papa Perez saying that’s “a lie” as there is “no favouritism”.

Joining Red Bull in 2021 where at the season finale he backed up Lewis Hamilton to help Max Verstappen in the championship decider, Perez was called “a legend” by his team-mate.

However, in the past year and a bit there have been signs of cracks in the relationship as Perez wants his chance to fight for a World title.

That recently saw the Mexican driver call for a review of Red Bull’s intra-team communication as he felt his team-mate was receiving different information at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

As that played out, Perez running 1-2 ahead of the reigning World Champion, the race leader questioned whether Verstappen was being told the same delta time as he’d been given.

Perez won the race with Verstappen second but, with the Dutchman having snatched the fastest lap point on the very last lap, Perez had concerns.

It has pundits such as former Williams and Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor questioning whether a “foolhardy” Perez has ideas above his station.

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‘There is no favouritism for anyone’

Papa Perez has denied this, after all there is “no favouritism” at Red Bull and both drivers have equally opportunities.

“That’s a lie, let’s be clear,” he said when the favouritism question was put to him by Marca.

“Red Bull is a brand that spends many billions of dollars more than Checo and Max. It is a professional team that wants to win with its two drivers, they want to have lap one from practice one and they want their two drivers to be 1 and 2.

“There is no favouritism for anyone, it is all speculation.

“Red Bull has the two of the best tigers in the same cage, if they were not at the same level then what is happening would not exist.”

No talk of Perez retiring from Formula 1

Perez went from hero to villain from Saudi Arabia to Australia, an off in Q1 at the Albert Park circuit forcing him into a pit lane start from which he could only recover as high as P5.

That has left him trailing Australian GP race winner Verstappen by 15 points.

Now at 33 and with one year, 2024, left to run on his Red Bull contract it begs the question is time running out for Perez. Papa Perez says no.

“Checo is doing his job excellently and will be in F1 for the next 10 years,” he said. “After everything lost to what was found, we have a blessing as Checo didn’t have a job two years ago before this new stage was opened by Red Bull.

“Checo is in the eyes of the world, today he is one of the great ambassadors of any brand worldwide.

“This is thanks to the support of Red Bull. What he did before were great achievements but nothing compared to the support of Red Bull, being in the best team in the world puts you in the eyes of the world.”

Perez has competition for the Red Bull seat

While there are constant rumours that Perez, unless he toes the line, could be replaced by Daniel Ricciardo before his contract has run its course, it’s for 2025 where he faces the most competition for his Red Bull seat.

Even if Perez is in Formula 1 for the next 10 years, that’s unlikely to be with the Milton Keynes team given they have a host of young talent knocking on the door.

That charge is being led by Yuki Tsunoda with AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost saying he’ll be ready to step up come 2025.

“All I can say is that Yuki is on the right track,” said Tost. “He has improved in every respect.

“But I think he should drive at AlphaTauri again in 2024. In 2025, I think he will finally be ready for Red Bull.”

And that just so happens to coincide with the end of Perez’s current contract.