The pressure is still on Sergio Perez to prove he deserves to remain Max Verstappen’s chosen wingman – despite his display of wheel-to-wheel grit in Brazil. In the wake of the nearly-seized podium at Interlagos, where Perez’s pulsing fight for third against Fernando Alonso ended in a photo finish, Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner was full of praise. “I think that was the Checo that we know he’s capable of being,” he asserted, reflecting on the Mexican’s apparent resurgence. Even Dr. Helmut Marko, ever the stoic judge, appears to have soften, while Horner noted Red Bull’s “clear intention” to keep Perez racing alongside his sensational Dutch teammate into next season. Yet, not everyone’s brows are unfurrowed by these assurances.
Cutting through the paddock buzz, Jan Lammers, the Dutch GP boss, remains decidedly unswayed. Speaking candidly to NOS, the former F1 driver draws a stark line between the prowess of a world champion and Perez’s aspirations, suggesting that the Interlagos tussle underscored the “difference between a world champion and someone who will never be one”.
Echoing this sentiment, Christijan Albers, another compatriot of Verstappen, lays out a cold analysis, unperturbed by the smoke and mirrors of a singular thrilling duel. “If you analyse lap by lap, you see that he is one second short per lap (of Max),” Albers revealed to De Telegraaf. His unflinching verdict placed Perez a staggering “34 seconds behind at the end” of the race, the former Minardi and Spyker driver insisted.
Albers does not mince words, stating, “He may have had that fight with Alonso, but he was a long way behind. One second per lap slower in the race. Then you can’t say he’s doing a good job.” He holds firm that Perez should really be “within half a second” of the dominant sister car.