Marko: Surviving Verstappen ‘an achievement’ for Perez


Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko says that three years of surviving Max Verstappen is “an achievement” for Sergio Perez given the dire fate suffered by the Mexican’s predecessors.

Perez has faced a challenging season in 2023, marked by inconsistencies, errors and setbacks, and by a growing deficit to Verstappen.

While the pair traded wins in the first four races of the year, thereafter Perez never saw the light of day against the Dutchman.

Perez’s prolonged period of under-performance, which started in Monaco back in May, unfolded over the summer and even extended into the back-half of 2023.

Recently, his results have stabilized, but the current 266-point gap between himself and Verstappen highlights the massive gulf that subsists between the two drivers.

Yet Marko believes that Perez’s efforts, while underwhelming relative to Verstappen, are not without merit.

“Checo is a very good driver, but I have to go a little bit back.” Marko told NewstalkZB radio’s Mike Hosking.

“Max dominated all his team-mates, and partly he destroyed them. So Checo survived already the third year, which is an achievement.

“And you know, for a racing driver, you have to believe that you are the best. But if you are demolished by a team-mate, sometimes by a second a lap, sometimes less, then it’s difficult.

“But I would say that he had his low this season. He recovered again, and now he is on a very good level.

“But at the moment, I can’t see anybody who would be on the same level in the same car as Max.”

Perez’s struggles inevitably led to speculation regarding is future, with pundits even predicting at one point that he would lose his plum drive with Red Bull Racing at the end of this season to a resurging Daniel Ricciardo.

But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has repeatedly said that Perez – who is contracted to RBR until the end of 2024 – will remain with the Milton Keynes-based outfit in 2024.


“I am absolutely confident and clear that Checo will be our driver next year,” Horner stated in Brazil last time out. “The clear plan, and therefore the clear intention, is that he will continue."

“We have announced the AlphaTauri drivers [Ricciardo and Tsunoda], we have our Red Bull Racing drivers, and that is how we intend to go racing in 2024.

“We’ll give him all the support we can to ensure that he finishes second, but there’s no prerequisite that if he doesn’t finish second, you’re out.”

Indeed, Perez will reprise this weekend in Las Vegas his battle with Lewis Hamilton for the runner-up spot in the championship in which the Mexican still holds a 32-point advantage over the Mercedes driver.

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