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Perez doing well to not be 'destroyed' by Verstappen

Perez doing well to not be 'destroyed' by Verstappen
© Reuters
If Sergio Perez can keep finishing second behind Max Verstappen this year, his place at the dominant Red Bull team might be safe for 2025.

If Sergio Perez can keep finishing second behind Max Verstappen this year, his place at the dominant Red Bull team might be safe for 2025.

Rumours have suggested the 34-year-old Mexican will struggle to convince the team that he is close enough to Verstappen to deserve a new deal for next season.

But, curiously, the influential Dr Helmut Marko praised Perez's performance throughout the 2024 season opening weekend in Bahrain.

"Checo drove a very good race," Marko has now told Speed Week. "It took him a while to get past the Mercedes and Ferrari, but after that he optimised it.

"Trying more than he did would have been pointless. Second place behind Max was all he could achieve."

The actual time and pace gap to Verstappen, however, was stark. "For Max to set the fastest race lap at the same time with the same car and the same tyres as Perez, and be two seconds faster, was a show of strength of the first order," Marko said.

"But he has Verstappen as a teammate, so not being destroyed by him is already a great achievement. If Max had not been there, it would have been an interesting race."

According to former Haas boss Gunther Steiner, it sounds as though Perez has a good chance of staying at Red Bull next year.

"Sergio is still there now, so maybe he'll stay," he told Bild newspaper.

"He could be released, that's true. But I believe that the real action on the driver market will only really begin once Mercedes has found their new driver. Then every driver will be trying to get the next best cockpit."

Dutch racing driver Jeroen Bleekemolen is not so sure finishing second in Bahrain was such a big achievement for Perez.

"Let's say that he's not a bad driver," he told NOS. "It's just that Max is so much better than the rest.

"Perez has the best car so he should actually be coming second, but they're definitely not going to fire him if he finishes second in the championship."

Former F1 driver Christijan Albers, meanwhile, told De Telegraaf: "If you look at qualifying, we're talking about an almost four tenths gap.

"Yes, ok, mistake here, mistake there. But if you look at other teams, the difference was only a couple of tenths."

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Max Verstappen at the Abu Dhabi GP on November 25, 2023
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