Sergio Perez’s ‘lack of speed a problem’ as Red Bull fall from ‘luxurious position’

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez looks unimpressed in conversation with Red Bull engineers at Imola

Sergio Perez looks unimpressed in conversation with Red Bull engineers at Imola

Christijan Albers is baffled that Red Bull’s management “don’t see” that Sergio Perez cannot help Max Verstappen in the midst of McLaren’s charge.

The most improved team of late with their Miami upgrades, Lando Norris not only beat Verstappen to the race win that Sunday but he threatened to make it two in a row in Imola.

Sergio Perez ‘a problem’ for Red Bull

Chasing down Verstappen in the closing laps of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Norris was just 0.725s shy of the race win.

In both the Miami and Imola races, Red Bull also had to keep an eye on Norris’ team-mate Oscar Piastri with the Aussie the stronger of the McLaren team-mates before the Safety Car in Miami.

But while a penalty for impeding cost Piastri his front row grid slot in Imola, Perez’s day was even worse as he was bumped out of qualifying in Q2.

Max Verstappen is winning the Red Bull team-mate war

F1 2024: Head-to-head qualifying record between team-mates

F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

He wasn’t able to recover, finishing the race in eighth place while Verstappen just managed to hold onto the win ahead of the fast-charging Norris.

Albers believes Perez’s pace – or lack thereof – is a problem now that Red Bull’s rivals have closed the gap.

“This is exactly what we’ve always talked about. If Red Bull is not competitive, then you simply have a problem with such a team-mate,” the former F1 driver told De Telegraaf podcast.

“I’m always surprised that they [Red Bull bosses] don’t see that. I wonder how that analysis is done internally at Red Bull.”

Christijan Albers: Then you really have a problem

Declaring Perez “lacks the speed”, Albers reckons while that was manageable in yesteryear when Red Bull’s car was comfortably quicker than the chasing pack.

Now that McLaren and – to an extent – Ferrari have caught up, however, it is a problem.

“You continuously had that because you have simply built a good car,” he added. “Then Max is at the front and then you have the possibility that Perez also puts him on the front row.

“Well, that often doesn’t happen, he is sometimes fourth or fifth.

“But if at a certain point you are no longer in that luxurious position, and I have been saying that for two or three seasons, then you really have a problem.

“He just lacks the speed and then you suddenly see that he is no longer there. Then you really have a problem.

“One driver qualifies at P1 and the other at P11. That’s not just a little bit, that’s just too much.”

Christian Horner: It’s just a bump

Albers may be worried about Red Bull’s fate, but team boss Christian Horner billed Perez’s Imola troubles as a “bump”.

He told the media including after Sunday’s race: I think it’s just a bump. Let’s see in Monaco next weekend – and then we leave Europe again.

“I think it’s just a blip. He’s always gone well at Monaco, so we’ll see.

“It’s a 24-race calendar. He’s had a great start to the year. His approach has been very strong, he’s changed his approach a bit this year.”

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