Sergio Perez: If I don’t receive support when I need it, I won’t give it either

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

Sergio Perez has put Red Bull and Max Verstappen on notice, saying if he doesn’t get “support” this season then he “won’t give it either”.

Teaming up with Max Verstappen in 2021, Perez showed himself to be, as Toto Wolff puts it, a “sensational wingman” as the Mexican driver readily moved over for his Dutch team-mate when told to do so.

He also spent a portion of his Sunday at that year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix holding up Lewis Hamilton in order to give Verstappen the opportunity to close the gap.

Verstappen, having won the World title, was full of praise for his team-mate.

Continuing into 2022 Verstappen didn’t need Perez’s support, the 25-year-old easily romping to a second World Championship. But as the season progressed Perez needed Verstappen’s, and it wasn’t given.

In fact the Dutchman blatantly refused to help his team-mate at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix and told Red Bull: “I told you already last summer, guys. Don’t ask that again to me, okay? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”

Perez said at the time that “shows who he really is” but later backtracked on that with Red Bull insisting all was well between the team-mates and that they’d continue to work with the team in mind.

However, ahead of the season it seem Perez has warned Red Bull and his team-mate he expects a give-and-take relationship.

“It’s always important to work as a team and obviously if I see that I don’t receive support when I need it, I won’t give it either,” the 33-year-old told Fox Sports Mexico.

“I think we are very clear about the important thing, it will be a very intense season, surely with six cars fighting for the championship, so it will be very important to work as a team in many races.”

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Perez is now gearing up for a season in which he hopes to take the fight to Verstappen with the World title the ultimate goal.

“Without a doubt this year will determine many things, how good I am, how much I want to continue in the sport, without a doubt it is a crucial year in my career,” he said.

“If you don’t have 100 percent desire to get up, train every day, take care of what you eat all year, everything you have to give to sport, if you don’t have that 100 percent energy, I don’t see myself being here at 90.”

A word of warning for Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez is playing with fire, and potentially his career, is he goes against an order from Red Bull to let Max Verstappen through.

After all, it’s the Dutchman who Red Bull believe has the better chance of winning the World title so they’ll throw all their eggs – and Perez – into his basket.

One can understand the Mexican driver’s bravado as this season may be his last opportunity to fight for a World title with Ferrari and Mercedes expected to edge ever closer to Red Bull.

But if he doesn’t adhere to the team’s playbook, this season may also be his last on the Formula 1 grid.

Red Bull have Daniel Ricciardo on standby, the eight-time grand prix winner their new reserve driver, and could potentially call him up at any stage.

Although the Honey Badger wants some time off, who would say no to a Red Bull race-seat. Definitely not Ricciardo.

As such Perez has to toe the line, he doesn’t have an option if he wants to continue – both with Red Bull and in Formula 1.