In the 2023 Formula 1 season, McLaren has undergone an impressive transformation, going from a struggling team at the rear of the grid to being a strong contender alongside Red Bull. Nevertheless, Sergio Perez, a driver for Red Bull, has faced a notable drop in performance, transitioning from being a championship contender to barely maintaining his position in second place. This decline has been exacerbated by recent remarks made by Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.
Perez had a strong start to the season, achieving victory in two out of the initial four races and displaying comparable performance to his teammate Max Verstappen. Nevertheless, in the past eight races starting from the Miami Grand Prix, Perez’s performance has significantly declined. Verstappen has emerged victorious in every race following Miami, showcasing an elevated level of performance that has sparked speculation about Red Bull potentially favoring the reigning champion.
Perez’s performance this season has been compared to his performance last season. In both instances, Perez had a strong start but experienced a decline in performance as the season went on. Some people believe that this decline was because Red Bull focused on developing the car to match Verstappen’s driving style, giving him an advantage over Perez. However, Marko refutes these claims and explains that the initial understeer problems with the car were due to its excess weight, and adjustments were made to enhance its balance.
Marko thinks that Perez’s liking for a car that understeers clashes with Verstappen’s liking for a car that oversteers. As the car has been improved to increase speed, it has shifted away from Perez’s preferred handling and towards a more oversteering sensation. Marko proposes that Perez should adjust his driving technique to better match the car.
Perez’s performance during qualifying has been a significant issue, as he has had difficulty keeping up with Verstappen’s speed. Marko thinks that Perez has placed excessive pressure on himself to outperform Verstappen, which has resulted in frequent errors. Marko proposes that Perez should concentrate on emulating Verstappen’s strategy and utilize data from the simulator to enhance his performance.
It is yet to be determined whether Perez can improve his performance in the latter half of the year. Nonetheless, Marko’s remarks have further intensified the expectations on the Mexican racer.