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Sergio Perez

Why Perez's wretched form is becoming unsustainable for Red Bull

At the beginning of the season, it looked as though Sergio Perez was set for a stable year, even landing a new contract after strong performances. The situation has since changed dramatically.

Perez Qualifying Silverstone
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

This season was supposed to be the year of truth for Sergio Perez. The 34-year-old  finished second in the drivers' standings last season, although his performances were far from immaculate. 

Max Verstappen dominated F1 with an unprecedented run of success, whilst Perez, despite the same RB19 machinery at his disposal, often had to fight to simply emerge from the midfield. 

Although Perez started the season strongly, scoring two wins in the first four races to leave him just six points behind Verstappen in the drivers' standings, his situation altered markedly at the Miami Grand Prix. Starting from pole position, the Mexican was beaten by his team-mate who had started from ninth on the grid.

What followed was a remarkable slump he did not truly emerge from until later in the year, albeit doing enough to secure Red Bull a first one-two championship finish by the end of the 22 races. 

At the start of this season, it appeared as if Perez had cast aside his demons as he scored four podium finishes in the first five races.

The fact he was not in a position to capitalise on Verstappen's early retirement in the Australian Grand Prix, where he only managed fifth, you could argue was the first alarm bell to ring.

Since the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola in mid-May, though, the wheels have fallen off for Perez at a time when McLaren and Mercedes have rapidly closed the gap to Red Bull.

After scoring 103 points over the first six races, he has managed just 15 in the last six to fall 137 behind Verstappen, whilst he has slumped to sixth in the standings.

Red Bull dismayed by Verstappen Perez gulf

The British Grand Prix weekend was a new low point for Perez. In qualifying he spun off the track in Q1, beaching his car in the gravel at Copse.

Scheduled to start 19th, the team opted to change power unit components under parc fermé conditions, leading to him starting from the pit lane.

Although still driving one of the best cars on the grid, Perez finished an inglorious 17th. A switch to intermediates too early played a significant role, although he hardly cut through the field beforehand. 

All of this comes after Perez signed a new one-plus-one contract in early June, based on his good start to the season and primarily to maintain stability within the team. 

However, the opposite has happened. Red Bull is struggling to keep up with the development pace of the competition and is finding out the hard way the gulf between Verstappen and Perez is vast.

The upshot is that Red Bull's stranglehold on the constructors' championship is under serious threat. Perez does not need to win every race in the RB20, but the car is still good enough to finish comfortably inside the points. 

Team boss Christian Horner was unequivocal about Perez's situation after the British Grand Prix.

“He knows it’s unsustainable to not be scoring points," he said. "We have to be scoring points in that car and he knows that.

“He knows his role and his target, so nobody is more eager than Checo to get back and find his form again.”

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

Contract clauses

'Target' is the key word. RacingNews365 reported the Mexican has two clauses in his contract that allow him to be sidelined during the summer break.

Perez cannot be more than 100 points and five places behind Verstappen after the Belgian Grand Prix otherwise he faces the prospect of an early exit.

Liam Lawson would be the main candidate to take over his seat, although it is not certain Red Bull will make the drastic decision during the summer break, and the team is keeping all options open.

The fact is the current situation cannot continue for too much longer. Verstappen and Red Bull are having trouble fending off the competition, as underlined at Silverstone where they were slower.

With every point precious, Red Bull desperately needs Perez to play his part in supporting Verstappen if the team is to retain its constructors' championship trophy.

Red Bull got away with it last year because Verstappen was so dominant, to such an extent the Dutch driver scored enough points to have won the constructors' title on his own.

But with McLaren and Mercedes pushing Red Bull to its limits, Perez knows if he fails to stem the tide of his currently miserable form then the exit door beckons and the team will bring in a driver it hopes can help Verstappen fend off its rivals.

Also interesting:

In the latest podcast, Ian, Sam and Nick discuss the British GP and Hamilton's emotional return to winning ways. Hamilton's journey since 2021 is discussed, as is Lando Norris' BIGGEST hurdle and Sergio Perez entering the Red Bull danger zone!

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here.

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