Handing Red Bull the 1-2 in the championship, Helmut Marko says Sergio Perez has been “talked about badly” this season, even though he’s been doing most of the talking.
Losing his way early in this year’s championship as he hit a woeful qualifying patch that cost him a shot at the World title, rumours suggested Perez’s Red Bull seat could be on the line.
Marko did nothing to dispel this.
Sergio Perez was up against the ‘team-mate of the century’
From criticising the driver’s lack of consistency to pointing out his handicap, Marko accused Perez of poor “teamwork” when he tried to fight Verstappen and later told him to focus on the job at hand and stop dreaming about winning a World title.
He publicly cast doubt over the Mexican driver’s Red Bull future as he told the world the team has a “contractual guarantee” with Perez but not a “job” one, and even suggested he leave the team on his own accord.
“That’s simply the fate with Verstappen that he’s suffering now,” said the 80-year-old. “That was already the case with Gasly. From that point of view, Perez needs a change of climate and team.”
But having claimed P2 in the Drivers’ Championship to give Red Bull a first-ever 1-2 result, it seems all is forgiven.
“We have a great car and a highly motivated team. But the crucial point for this dominance, and more and more people are slowly getting it, is the Max Verstappen factor,” Marko told OE24 as he reviewed the season.
“Sergio Perez has been talked about badly even though he is a top driver.
“He’s just unlucky that he has a talent of the century as a team-mate.”
Marko remembers Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz
Red Bull’s second championship double came a year after the passing of the team’s founder Dietrich Mateschitz.
Marko says it’s unfortunate Mateschitz wasn’t here to experience undoubtedly the most dominant performance ever witnessed by a Formula 1 team and driver.
“Without Mateschitz, none of this would have been possible,” he said.
“I spoke to Max and asked him if he had ever dreamed of it. Max just shook his head in disbelief and said: ‘Never, never!’
“Unfortunately, he who gave us this vision was no longer allowed to experience it.
“There were many wonderful victories and also World Championship titles. But it’s a shame that he can no longer experience this performance from the team and especially from Max.
“Something like this year is unique. Who knows if this will be possible again.”
Red Bull won 21 of this year’s 22 Grands Prix with Verstappen setting a new record for the most wins in a single season with 19.