Verstappen’s former Red Bull teammates praise Perez despite unwanted record

Sergio Perez is 226 points behind Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in the 2023 F1 championship

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Alex Albon backed the way Sergio Perez has handled a difficult season at Red Bull while Pierre Gasly added the team’s focus on Max Verstappen makes it difficult for any driver to succeed in Milton Keynes.

Perez is on track to record the biggest margin of defeat by a championship runner-up in the history of Formula 1, sat 226 points behind Verstappen with four races still to go before the end of the season including the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix.

Gasly partnered the Dutchman in 2019 after a season at Toro Rosso, but was replaced just 12 races in by rookie Albon, who himself only lasted until the end of 2020 before taking a year out of the sport when Perez took his seat.

“It’s never easy to go against probably the best driver at the moment in combination with the best team and a team that is fully around him,” Gasly told the media. “So it’s a tough job.

Perez looked set to take the lead of the 2023 championship five rounds in after starting off with two impressive wins, and then qualifying on pole for the winner-takes-all Miami GP with Verstappen down in ninth.

However, Verstappen fought through to take a soul-crushing win and Perez then failed to reach Q3 for the next five races, effectively ending his challenge.

The current highest margin of victory in a championship was Sebastian Vettel‘s 155-point cushion to Fernando Alonso in 2013, but Verstappen is set to absolutely fly past that tally.

Racing for pride at this point, Perez does have the chance to claw some points back in Mexico City though, and couldn’t have a bigger motivation than becoming the first Mexican driver to win his home grand prix.

“I mean, Checo did very well at the start of the season,” Gasly added. “Obviously it’s not going as well now for reasons we don’t know. But I just wish him the best, it’s an important weekend for him in front of his own crowd and hopefully he can get the best out of it.”

Albon: Tough times will make Perez stronger

Red Bull’s Alexander Albon in action during the 2020 Russian Grand Prix . Pool via REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov

After an incredibly tough opening to the 2019 season for Gasly, Albon was thrust into Red Bull having barely completed half an F1 season.

There was plenty of optimism after he’d shown bags of potential for Toro Rosso against the experienced Daniil Kvyat, but it turned into a nightmarish 14-month stint for Albon as he slipped steadily further behind Verstappen.

It looked like his career could be over when he was left without an F1 seat for 2021, but Albon returned a year later with Williams and has been flying since, now being linked to make the step back up to the midfield or a front-running team.

“I think it’s always tough. to go against one of the quickest, one of the best drivers on the grid, call it a generational talent to some extent,” Albon said. “So it wasn’t easy my year, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Pierre his year.

“But we’re drivers, we go through tough times and it makes us stronger.

“I think (Perez) is handling it quite well at least from what I see. So like I said, I’m not looking over my shoulders too much and seeing what goes on down the paddock.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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