Former Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Sergio Perez has a tough year ahead of him with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris touted as possible replacements for the Mexican.
An excellent strategy call by Ferrari at this past weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ultimately denied Perez second in the 2022 Drivers’ Championship.
While the Mexican won two races this year en route to his best championship finish of third overall, Perez was comprehensively outperformed by his teammate Max Verstappen who claimed a record-breaking 15 wins in 2022.
With Red Bull announcing that Daniel Ricciardo will serve as the team’s reserve driver in 2023, Villeneuve believes Perez must perform at a higher level to keep his seat.
“Perez was strong in the beginning of the season, then I found him invisible,” Villeneuve wrote on his blog for Formule1.nl
“In the last races he rebounded and was competitive. But over the year as a whole, he could have been better. 2023 will be important for him.
“Red Bull will have Daniel Ricciardo behind it soon, although he will also be used a lot for marketing and media activities. He is good for that.
“They are also talking to Lando Norris, although you shouldn’t put too much value on that otherwise.”
Villeneuve expecting Hamilton to roar back to life
Following a disappointing season that saw him lose his streak of winning at least one race in every season he has contested, Villeneuve expects Lewis Hamilton to be be fired up for next year.
“Next year I expect a lot from Lewis Hamilton, we are going to see the best Lewis,” Villeneuve continued.
“He ended the season without pole position and victory. That will do something to him, I think. And then it will be fun, Mercedes has been able to improve.
“We saw that in Brazil. In the opening phase of the race Lewis rightly had to give back that spot, he also had some trouble with the mediums. Once changed to the hard tire, he really flew down the track.
“Shame for him that he had to end the race like that, for the first time due to mechanical failure this season.”