Ted Kravitz renews ‘built for Max Verstappen’ debate with Sergio Perez off the pace in China

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez shake hands

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez shake hands

Spotted in conversation with Helmut Marko in China, Ted Kravitz says the Red Bull advisor may be asking Sergio Perez why he couldn’t challenge Lando Norris but that there is “no doubt” as to the reason.

That, says the Sky pit lane reporter, is simply because the RB20 “is built around Max Verstappen”.

‘There is no doubt that the Red Bull RB20 is built around Max Verstappen’

While Verstappen cruised to win number four of this season at the Chinese Grand Prix, Perez fell short of the goal for a Red Bull 1-2 as he was beaten by Lando Norris in the McLaren.

Running a two-stop strategy to Norris’ and Charles Leclerc’s one-stoppers, Perez gave up track position behind his team-mate when Red Bull pitted the team-mates under the Safety Car.

But needing a handful of laps to overtake Leclerc to run third behind Norris, Perez’s deficit to the McLaren was up to three seconds.

Surprising, given Verstappen’s pace at the front, Perez wasn’t able to chase down Norris and actually lost ground to him, taking the chequered flag six seconds after the Briton.

But while questions may be asked, potentially even by Marko who Kravitz spotted chatting to Perez after the race, about Perez’s inability to match Verstappen’s pace, the Sky reporter believes it’s a very simple answer.

The RB20 is “built” to suit triple World Champion Verstappen’s “on the nose” driving style, Kravitz claimed.

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“Sergio had no pace to chase down Lando for P2,” Kravitz said in his Ted’s Notebook after the race.

“I don’t think he burnt his tyres out too soon, but it just sort of stayed… maybe it was a dirty air thing, maybe it was a hard tyre thing. But maybe also it was Lando driving brilliantly, which undoubtedly he was.

“But when you consider that Max finished 13.7 seconds ahead of Lando Norris then I guess it’s a valid question that Helmut, old Helmut, has got for Checo as to why he wasn’t in the same car able to close and overtake the McLaren.

“Listen, there is no doubt, to answer the question as to why Max can do what he does with this car and Checo can’t, there is no doubt that the Red Bull RB20 is built around Max Verstappen. That we know.

“It’s better this year for Checo Perez has been in a previous Red Bulls arguably, Checo has had a better start to the season.

“But the way this car is designed to be so much on the nose, the slightest steering wheel input and it starts moving at the front and it’s so grippy at the front in the way Max Verstappen loves.

“A driver with a more standard, you might say, driving style of Checo Perez might think what on earth is going on there.

“Who was it who said it’s like having a mouse sensitivity on your laptop? When you set your mouse sensitivity to extremely high and then if you move it’s like the cursor goes off all over the place.

“It’s just like that, but in a Formula 1 car. That’s how Max likes the front and Checo obviously doesn’t have the same setup because I think he finds it undriveable.

“That’s why he can’t extract the same performance as Max does with his driving style, and that’s why he finished five seconds behind Lando did Sergio Perez but I say Max Verstappen brilliantly won for 13.7 seconds on Lando Norris.”

Verstappen has scored 110 points this season to Perez’s 85 to sit P1 in the Drivers’ standings ahead of his team-mate.

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