Sergio Perez admits that any driver who is Red Bull team-mate to Max Verstappen cannot hope to survive without possessing great mental strength.
After Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon struggled to contend with the performance level of Verstappen, Perez was next to give it a shot as Red Bull brought him in ahead of the 2021 campaign.
But even Perez, the highly-regarded Formula 1 veteran, has had his lows alongside Verstappen, arguably the lowest of lows coming in F1 2023 as his targeted title challenge fell apart as his performances fell off a cliff.
Sergio Perez discusses Red Bull survival mentality
The Mexican racer has though begun to steady the ship in recent rounds, making the podium three times over the past four races having withstood a torrent of speculation over his Red Bull future, the team repeatedly affirming their commitment to Perez until the end of 2024 at least.
Asked by Auto Motor und Sport what it is like to be a Red Bull driver and Verstappen’s team-mate, Perez replied: “It’s tough. But if you want to drive for Red Bull, you have to live with it and be very strong mentally to survive it.
“We all have to appreciate what Max is doing. The level at which he is driving at the moment is extremely high. To give 100 per cent every weekend, no matter what the conditions are. When you’re his team-mate, it’s hard to digest.”
But, while the results have picked up for Perez, there is still an alarming performance gap which has opened up between he and Verstappen.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called it “bizarre” when Perez qualified 1.3 seconds slower than Verstappen at the Dutch GP, while last time out at Monza, Verstappen was almost four-tenths faster than his team-mate come the end of qualifying, while on race day Perez fought back against the Ferraris to secure a Red Bull one-two.
Verstappen claimed victory for a record-breaking 10th grand prix in a row.
And as for where Verstappen is finding so much time over Perez in the same car, Perez suggested: “Mainly in the fast corners. But there is no clear pattern.”
Then put to him that Verstappen has no issue with oversteer but he does, Perez replied: “Let’s put it this way: when the car tends to oversteer, the distance between us increases. The other way around, I’m much closer.”
Sergio Perez pushing to win again in F1 2023
Verstappen is now marching towards his third World Championship in as many seasons with his lead over Perez standing at 145 points, meaning P2 is now the best that Perez realistically can do.
Still, that would satisfy Red Bull, the team yet to experience a one-two finish in the Drivers’ standings.
Perez has not thrown in the towel just yet against Verstappen though, confirming that with eight rounds of the season still to go, he is targeting adding a couple more wins to his current tally of two.
“To find the form I had at the start of the season and win a few more races,” said Perez of his goals for the remainder of the season.
Red Bull can potentially secure the 2023 Constructors’ Championship title already in Singapore if results go their way.