Despite never outpacing his teammate and double reigning champion Max Verstappen in the rankings this year, the Mexican narrowed the gap to just six points after his victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in late April.
However, his performance ahead of the summer break was marred by five straight failures to advance into Q3, forcing him to stage a comeback during the races. Despite having the fastest car of 2023, he hasn’t managed to place second to Verstappen in a full Grand Prix since the fifth round in Miami.
In an exclusive interview with F1 Flow.com’s affiliate, F1 Flow-Total.com, Marko stated that this challenging period has led Perez to come to terms with the end of his championship “dream”, a shift that may help him refocus and elevate his performance.
The Austrian reaffirmed Red Bull team boss Christian Horner’s assertion that Perez’s position is secure as long as he maintains second place in the drivers’ championship.
Marko commented, “Perez is contracted with us until the end of 2024. He’s second in the world championship. We see no reason to make changes.
“He has now come to terms with the end of his championship dream. This may allow him to refocus on optimising his performance.”
Marko further praised Verstappen for his intelligence, which he believes is often underestimated, and declared that Verstappen’s superior performance level means Perez could never outdo him in the championship.
“Max doesn’t get the recognition he deserves,” Marko stated. “He is an extraordinary driver. His mental acuity is second to none. He even noticed my phone ringing over the radio! [during FP2 at the Spanish GP].
“Verstappen has unparalleled talent and speed. He’s at the pinnacle of his career, making everyone else look ordinary by comparison. Verstappen sets a unique standard.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / F1 Flow Images
“That we expect Perez to be within three-tenths [of a second] of Max is quite generous. Sometimes the gap was wider.
“Perez is second in the championship. That’s the best he can do. He’s meeting that expectation currently.”
Marko noted that Perez’s true strength lies in his racing, not in his one-lap speed – something he observed during a private assessment with current AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo in the late 2000s, early 2010s.
Speaking of Perez, Marko said, “He’s great in races, and excels in overtaking. His shortcomings lie in qualifying. That has always been his weak spot.
“During our junior qualifying event in Estoril [Portugal] years ago, both Ricciardo and Perez were newcomers. We conducted simulated qualifying and long runs.
“While they were the quickest, Perez lagged in qualifying.”
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Sergio Perez’s F1 Championship Dream
What did Marko say about Perez’s championship chances in F1?
Marko said that Perez’s F1 “championship dream” has ended. This is after a rough patch of performances, but he believes this realization may help Perez refocus on improving his performance.
Who did Marko compare Perez with during the private evaluation?
During a private evaluation in the late 2000s and early 2010s, Marko compared Perez with current AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo. He noted that Perez’s strength lies in his race performances and overtaking, but qualifying has always been his weak point.
Is Perez’s seat at Red Bull under threat?
According to Marko, Perez’s seat at Red Bull is not under threat. He confirmed that as long as Perez maintains second place in the drivers’ championship, his position is secure.
How does Marko rate Verstappen as a driver?
Marko praised Verstappen highly, stating that his intelligence is often underestimated and that his overall performance level means it’s “not possible” for any other driver, including Perez, to surpass him in the championship.
How long is Perez’s contract with Red Bull?
Perez is contracted with Red Bull until the end of 2024.