Helmut Marko Praises Sergio Perez for Not Going ‘Solo’ Away from Max Verstappen in 2024

Helmut Marko Praises Sergio Perez for Not Going 'Solo' Away from Max Verstappen in 2024
Credits: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire and IMAGO / PanoramiC

Sergio Perez has shown flashes of matching Max Verstappen’s supreme pace but has never been challenging him consistently ever since he joined Red Bull. Apparently, that could change in 2024. Perez has started this season right behind Verstappen, completing 1-2 finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and has qualified within a tenth of a second of the three-time champion’s pole time in Japan. This consistency and closeness have impressed Helmut Marko as the Austrian praised Checo for not going solo in terms of his setup away from what Verstappen does and struggle like he did in 2023.

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According to F1 Maximaal, Marko told Sky Sports, “He [Perez] no longer tries to follow his own technical path. The cars are almost identical in terms of setup and that ultimately makes the difference”. 

The Austrian advisor has been critical of Perez trying too much to match and beat Verstappen, which is quite a tough feat to manage. Even Perez has himself admitted that his side of the garage have been toying with the car setup too much over the past season.

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This experimental approach just never let the #11 driver settle with the RB19. Consequently, his performances and consistency tailed off massively during both qualifying and the race.

With a fresh start in 2024, the 34-year-old seems to have stopped reinventing and is following suit as Verstappen. Perhaps, it could be the pressure of losing his seat for next year or just doing a consistent job for Red Bull. But something has influenced Perez to avoid going on his own, and now try to sail in the same boat with his Dutch teammate.

Now, does this mean that the six-time race winner could win Grand Prixs and challenge Verstappen for the title this year? This was the exact speculation that came up when Perez won two races at the start of 2023. So, the Mexican driver would not want to get carried away with such chatter this time around and focus on doing the best job he can.

Has Sergio Perez improved his chances of retaining his Red Bull seat?

Sergio Perez brings the perfect aspects to the table for Red Bull as to what they look for in a teammate for Max Verstappen. He is the perfect foil for the Dutchman and can be the wingman and team player they ideally want in their second car. The #11 driver has done this job commendably several times in his three years so far.

However, his inconsistent and under-par 2023 season raises some concerns about whether he deserves his seat from a performance perspective. While Red Bull can understand Perez may not be able to produce the magic as Max Verstappen, they hope he can be consistently close to him to some extent.

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Perez’s start to the 2024 season is producing exactly that, and the Austrian team would feel satisfied. If the Guadalajara-born driver can keep this kind of performance consistently to back up Verstappen‘s brilliance, there is little that keeps him from retaining his seat for 2025.

Besides, the prospective drivers who are reportedly in line to replace the 34-year-old are also not performing well. The RB duo of Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo have been in a team battle of their own to prove their contention for Perez’s seat.

However, Ricciardo has been woefully behind Tsunoda on pure performance. Meanwhile, Tsunoda has shown some moments of immaturity that may not help his cause for a promotion.

While there is some chatter about Carlos Sainz being an outside hire option for Red Bull, there are multiple aspects to consider if the Austrian outfit decides to go that route. So, as things stand, if Perez can maintain his performance level, he could easily extend his stay at Milton Keynes to be Verstappen’s longest-serving teammate.

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