Sergio Perez offers explanation to Toto Wolff over ‘odd’ Max Verstappen gap

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez faces questions from the media at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez faces questions from the media.

Sergio Perez has hit back at Toto Wolff’s claim that his pace deficit to Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen at the Dutch Grand Prix was “odd”.

Perez was regarded as a title contender after winning two of the opening four rounds of the 2023 season in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan, but has seen his campaign implode in the months since.

Despite driving the dominant RB19 car, the Mexican failed to reach Q3 for five consecutive rounds between the end of May and mid-July, but seemed to steady the ship with consecutive podiums in Hungary and Belgium prior to F1’s summer break.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Sergio Perez explains Max Verstappen pace deficit

However, Perez endured a disastrous Dutch GP weekend as he qualified six positions and 1.3 seconds behind Verstappen at Zandvoort before crashing in changeable conditions in the race.

Wolff, the Mercedes team boss, expressed alarm at Perez’s struggles against Verstappen, describing the pace deficit as “bizarre” and admitting that he could not comprehend it.

Asked about Wolff’s comments ahead of this weekend’s Italian GP at Monza, Perez claimed the gap between the Red Bulls at Zandvoort was nothing out of the ordinary in F1 – and insisted his season is now back on track having reached Q3 at the last three races.

He told media including’s Thomas Maher at Zandvoort: “I think it’s hard to say, we’d have to look at it race by race.

“At the end of the day, sometimes the gap is bigger. For example, how it was in Zandvoort, it was mainly getting the conditions right and exploring everything out of the car – and the differences if you don’t get the conditions right, you will see a big delta, so it’s how it works sometimes. We’ve seen with other drivers those sorts of gaps.

“It’s a long season in F1 and it doesn’t really matter in my opinion where we are now, it only matters where we are able to finish and then we can summarise our season in Abu Dhabi.

“Definitely, I went through a bit of a tough patch through the middle of the season where I was struggling the most with the car, but I think that’s all behind us and we should be having good races from now on.” recommends

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Perez, who trails Verstappen by a massive 138 points with nine rounds remaining, has seen his place at Red Bull come under threat in recent months.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko and Christian Horner seemed at odds on the subject of Perez’s future at Zandvoort, with Horner insisting Perez will remain in place for 2024 after Marko had earlier indicated that the team’s driver lineup is yet to be finalised.

Speaking on Thursday at Monza, Lando Norris, the McLaren driver, admitted he would relish the opportunity to become Max Verstappen’s team-mate in the future (below).

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