Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko believes Sergio Perez's recent contract extension will make little difference to the dynamic of his teammate relationship with Max Verstappen, due to the Dutch driver simply "being faster".
The Mexican driver has signed a new two-year deal to stay with Red Bull for two more years, keeping him at Milton Keynes until the end of the 2024 season.
Now just 15 points away from the championship lead, Perez's recent form could cause problems for Red Bull given that he appears to be now able to match, or even beat, Verstappen on pure pace in the race - a situation that hasn't really occurred at any point during his tenure so far.
Marko spoke about the situation with German publication Formel1.de, where he explained why Perez was instructed to move aside for Verstappen early on, only to not have the favour returned later in the race.
"He won Monaco, right?" Marko said, when asked if Perez is permitted to win against Verstappen.
"In Spain, Max's strategy was changed because his DRS was not working. This created a completely new situation compared to Perez, who was on a two-stop strategy. Verstappen quickly caught up with Checo and Perez had no chance with that strategy.
"We told Perez to get out of the way as soon as possible because he was on a different strategy. It was about him doing it as quickly as possible. Not like it used to happen with [Lewis] Hamilton and [Valtteri] Bottas (at Mercedes) or something, and that they each other held up for another half or full lap.
"I don't think these are team orders."
Marko: Recent races haven't played a role
As for whether Spain ultimately was the deciding factor in Red Bull offering Perez a firm new contract, Marko said the new deal was put together over a much longer period of time.
"No, the contract was not drawn up in a day," he said.
"Perez has one of the most involved managers (Julian Jakobi), who also joins the discussion. The new contract also simply resulted from the fact that the new car concept means Perez is closer to Verstappen. Sometimes it's just one or two-tenths of a second.
"It is clear that, as a team, we also want to win the constructors' title. From a financial point of view, most of our employees get a bonus if we win the constructors' title, so you have to make sure you have the strongest driver duo."
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Marko: Verstappen still has the edge on Perez
While Perez's performances have elevated to the point where he appears to now be a major consideration for Verstappen to content with in a battle for victory, Marko reckons that a Perez vs. Verstappen title fight isn't particularly likely.
"You forget one thing: Verstappen has already missed the finish twice this year," Marko said.
"Both times he was in second place. If he had managed to collect those eighteen points, then the distance to Perez would have been clearly greater.
"It doesn't change the fact that Checo [Perez] is having a great season, but still, when it comes to sheer speed, Max is usually the faster of the two."
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