McLaren‘s team principal, Zak Brown, has said that if Red Bull had two Sergio Perez‘s, the F1 Drivers Championship would be wide open, with only the form of Max Verstappen preventing other teams challenging for victory.
Verstappen is 165 points ahead of the nearest non-Red Bull driver, Fernando Alonso but by contrast Perez is only 40 points ahead of the Aston Martin man.
A poor run of form saw Perez fail to make Q3 for five consecutive races, while Verstappen has won eight straight races and looks set to eclipse the record for most back-to-back victories.
As a result, the Mexican has come under intense scrutiny with pundits and analysts wondering if he should retain his Red Bull drive for 2024 and Brown is the latest to delicately add his voice to the building pressure.
“It’s Max who is killing everyone right now,” Brown said to ESPN. “If there were two Sergio‘s in the car, with all due respect, the championship would be wide open.
“We at McLaren have already finished second, Aston Martin had a second place, Ferrari had a second place, Mercedes had a second place, Sergio had a second place.
“There are five teams that would have won a race this year without Max.”
Brown does not feel that Verstappen‘s run is damaging the interest in the sport from fair-weather fans due to the close battle behind the runaway championship leader, despite the Dutchman’s dominance appearing impervious to weather, rivals or mechanical failure.
“I think in other sports we have seen Tiger Woods win every time and the ratings have never been so high because people admire seeing an athlete at the top of the sport,” Brown added to ESPN.
“I would not like it to go on forever, but I don’t think it is damaging the sport because in any case behind Max the battles are tight all the way to the back of the grid.
Perez safe for 2024
Despite the pressure, Perez has received his backing from Red Bull‘s bosses, Christian Horner and Helmut Marko, because his race pace is still good.
It’s qualifying that the driver has struggled with but he appears to be nursing that back to form after making Q3 for the Hungarian Grand Prix and Belgian GP, starting second for the latter.
However, Horner sounded a warning to the Mexican as Daniel Ricciardo continues to show promising signs and continues to present himself as a viable option.
“Obviously our drivers are going to be Max and Checo [Perez] next year,” Horner said to F1 Nation‘s podcast. “But it’s always good to have talent in reserve and I think Daniel firmly wants to be pitching for that 2025 Red Bull seat.
“That’s his goal and objective, and by going to AlphaTauri, he sees that as his best route of stating his case for 2025.”
Where is the next F1 2023 race?
F1 will return from its summer break with the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort on August 25-27, where championship leader Max Verstappen will be racing on home soil.