Perez valuable to Red Bull despite dip in form, claims Andretti

By Sports Desk October 17, 2023

Mario Andretti has come to the defence of Sergio Perez, claiming that the Mexican is "very valuable" to Formula One champions Red Bull.

Despite being in the best car on the grid, Perez has struggled since last tasting victory at the Azerbaijani Grand Prix back in April.

While his team-mate Max Verstappen was crowned champion for a third successive year after the Qatar Grand Prix, Perez fell to a disappointing tenth-placed finish.

It continued his recent run of poor performances following a mistake-laden performance in Japan – in which he ultimately failed to finish – and an eighth-place finish in Singapore the week prior. 

Perez's contract with Red Bull runs until the end of the next season, but a host of other drivers have been linked with the seat to partner Verstappen.

However, the 1978 drivers' champion Andretti believes Perez still has the ability to partner the Dutch driver moving forward.

"He has shown moments of brilliance, there are times when Max had some issues, and he picked up the ball and ran with it, and he won some great races," he told Stats Perform.

"We've seen his speciality in street races, for instance. So he brings something very valuable to the table. 

"And I think, to me, from where I stand, as a driver, that's a perfect team. Actually, they don't get into each other's way."

Perez has admitted to being frustrated by his own performances, particularly after his display in Japan, and Andretti believes the 33-year-old needs to look inward and make the necessary adjustments to get back to his best.

"There may be setups or something not totally to his liking," he added. 

"But it's a matter of adjusting, for every driver, that's the whole trick, to be able to adjust and compensate for some of the things that don't always go your way."

While Perez and Verstappen have combined to retain the constructors' championship, the latter has emerged as the clear star and number one driver in the Red Bull team.

Other teams have opted not to keep both drivers on an equal footing, but Andretti is unsure if such a system breeds the “optimal” environment for success. 

"There are teams that have got two number ones, and that's fine. I don't know if that's the optimal situation. But nevertheless, that's the way it goes, nothing is defined," he ended.

"They should give equal attention, equal commitment and everything is equal opportunity. But it's really up to the individual to earn the position of number one."

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    Verstappen is in the hunt for his fourth straight world championship crown, and leads the drivers' standings with five race wins to his name in 2024.

    However, only 31 points separate the Dutchman, who is on 169, and second-placed Charles Leclerc, while McLaren's Norris sits third with 113 following his victory in Miami last month.

    Mercedes, meanwhile, have come back into contention in recent races, with both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton impressing in qualifying, albeit they have been unable to translate that into a victory as of yet.

    But with more contenders, Norris feels the field is opening up.

    "There is more chance and possibilities now, especially if Mercedes are in the fight; more chance of having a bigger swing of points." he said, as per BBC Sport, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

    "A bad weekend for Max was third but it could be fifth or sixth.

    "And if you can be the guy who wins, within one weekend you can turn quite a lot of points around fairly quickly. If it goes like that, there is a higher chance."

    Norris conceded, though, that Verstappen is still at the very top of his game.

    He added: "Max's bad weekend is never going to be a bad weekend. It's still going to be a good amount of points. He is just strong in all areas. It is rare he makes mistakes or messes up qualifying.

    "But with more pressure you never know how that changes, and always with pressure it is always easier to make mistakes."

    In the world of Mercedes, Hamilton has urged the team's fans to give backing to Russell, who has faced accusations of the team favouring him, given his team-mate is set to join Ferrari next season.

    "I think they know if you look over the years, we've always been a strong team. We've always worked really hard together," Hamilton told reporters.

    "I think we need support, not negativity, and I wasn't actually aware that George was experiencing negativity.

    "George has done nothing but his best every single weekend and is delivering for the team, so he can't be faulted at all.

    "Of course, there can always be things done better within the team, and that comes through conversation, through communication, and that's something that we are consistently working on.

    "But we're all in the same boat. We're all working hard together. We want to finish on a high and feel that we owe that to our long-term relationship that we've had."

  • Norris: Catching Verstappen more likely Norris: Catching Verstappen more likely

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    Verstappen is in the hunt for his fourth straight world championship crown, and leads the drivers' standings with five race wins to his name in 2024.

    However, only 31 points separate the Dutchman, who is on 169, and second-placed Charles Leclerc, while McLaren's Norris sits third with 113 following his victory in Miami last month.

    Mercedes, meanwhile, have come back into contention in recent races, with both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton impressing in qualifying, albeit they have been unable to translate that into a victory as of yet.

    But with more contenders, Norris feels the field is opening up.

    "There is more chance and possibilities now, especially if Mercedes are in the fight; more chance of having a bigger swing of points." he said, as per BBC Sport, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

    "A bad weekend for Max was third but it could be fifth or sixth.

    "And if you can be the guy who wins, within one weekend you can turn quite a lot of points around fairly quickly. If it goes like that, there is a higher chance."

    Norris conceded, though, that Verstappen is still at the very top of his game.

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    "The incident was on me, I touched the wet part into turn six and I couldn’t stop the car, I couldn’t touch the brakes," Perez said on Sunday.

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    Perez recently signed a new two-year deal with Red Bull, ending speculation that the world champions will sign free agent Sainz ahead of the new season. 

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