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Sergio Perez

The key Red Bull player who must step up to avoid title loss

Sergio Perez has endured a difficult run of Formula 1 races after starting the season strong - if he doesn't pull himself from the slump soon, it could spell disaster for Red Bull.

Perez FP3 Monaco
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Sergio Perez was praised for his early season performances that saw him take three second-place results in the opening four rounds.

In the eyes of Red Bull, it was the perfect start as he was not causing upset to runaway leader Max Verstappen but was managing to fend off the competition behind.

However, the formbook has flipped at recent races and while rival teams have made steps forward, Perez has not shown up.

In a period where Red Bull is in desperate need of two front-runners, it’s now or never for the Mexican driver to show his worth.

Recent form

At the opening rounds of the year, it appeared that Perez had put his demons of last year to rest.

The 34-year-old endured a season of turmoil in 2023, so much so that speculation was rife that he would be ousted from the team at the end of 2024 following the expiration of his contract.

A run to second place in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Japan seemed to be the display of a refreshed driver, who worked to overcome the weaknesses that tarnished his 2023 campaign.

But at the last two events, things have gone wrong for Perez - and it should be a worry for Red Bull, who is facing its closest challenge since the famed 2021 season.

At the Miami Grand Prix, McLaren emerged victorious with Lando Norris while Charles Leclerc was also not far from usurping Verstappen for P2.

It seemed to mark something of a turning point for the season as ever since, Red Bull has been under immense pressure.

Norris ran Verstappen to within seven-tenths of a second at the chequered flag at Imola, while Red Bull struggled in Monaco where Ferrari and McLaren locked out the top four positions in both qualifying and the race.

At Imola, Perez found himself crossing the line in eighth after qualifying in a disappointing 11th, while an even greater struggle at Monaco saw the Mexican driver eliminated in Q1.

While his race came to an abrupt end on the opening lap following a crash with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, progress would have likely been minimal, as was the case for the rest of the field in the processional race.

Points scored at last three weekends (including Miami Sprint)

Driver Team Points Scored
Charles Leclerc Ferrari 62
Max Verstappen Red Bull 59
Lando Norris McLaren 55
Carlos Sainz Ferrari 39
Oscar Piastri McLaren 33
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 23
Sergio Perez Red Bull 22

A repeat of concerns?

Six drivers have out-scored Perez across the last three events and soon the situation could become critical for Red Bull.

Recent results have thrown the season projection into disarray - at one stage while it appeared that Red Bull would once again run away with the title, a spanner has been thrown into the works by the uptick in form from McLaren and Ferrari.

Crucially, none of Red Bull's direct rivals suffer from such a huge pace differential between two team-mates. Performance levels have not swung drastically in favour of one individual, a situation that has historically occurred between Verstappen and Perez.

Should the gap between the top three times continue to run close, Perez's dwindling form could be a decisive factor.

Such was Red Bull's advantage over the field in 2023, Perez's underperformance was not to be an outcome in the final standings.

Nine non-Q3 appearances and a mammoth 290-point gap to Verstappen still saw him cling on to P2 in the championship, albeit with less than half of the Dutchman's point tally.

Looking at the last two rounds, the six-time grand prix winner seems to be slipping into a historic concern - as the car is upgraded, he has struggled to extract performance.

Red Bull may be forced to upgrade at a higher rate this year if it is pushed all the way by its rivals - but if Perez is out of the equation, will the fight already be lost?

Also interesting:

Is Ocon's future now in danger after the incident in Monaco? And has the track become too outdated for F1? In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look back at last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. Tune in below!

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here.

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