Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes only two drivers – Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – could match Verstappen in the same car.
Sergio Perez continues to face substantial pressure at Red Bull despite the dominance of RB19. After a solid start, the Mexican driver continues to struggle for results and performance.
A series of poor weekends in Singapore and Suzuka – where he accumulated several penalties for incidents – have only worsened his recent form.
One positive for Perez is that Christian Horner insists his place at Red Bull for 2024 is secure. Though the Austrian outfit is known for its unpredictability when handling drivers, it seems almost certain Perez will stay in the team.
However, there are still areas of concern. Looking beyond next season, Red Bull and Helmut Marko will assess whether Perez is at the required level.
The likes of Daniel Ricciardo will provide the Austrian outfits with viable options to replace the 33-year-old if performances do not improve next year.
Speaking ahead of the Qatar GP, Helmut Marko discussed Perez’s form:
“Qualifying is the weakness of Perez. We have to defend second place because Hamilton – unfortunately – is getting closer and closer,” lat.motorsport quotes him as saying.
“The teammates that Senna had also struggled. Gerhard Berger can speak to this.
“Only great drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso would manage alongside him.”
Second place in the Championship is certainly achievable for Perez, given the unrivalled supremacy of Red Bull’s car.
Even with an almost 200-point gap to Max Verstappen, he is still clinging on to second place in the World Championship standings.
The regression of Aston Martin has also massively helped Perez in this regard, with Alonso falling back in the standings. However, Helmut Marko recognises that Hamilton is still a threat.
With just six rounds left to go, it remains to be seen how the battle for second place will evolve.