Helmut Marko has increased the pressure on Sergio Perez to improve his performance at Red Bull in the last five rounds. Despite having a contract with the team for 2024, Perez is facing growing pressure from the Austrian team.
A combination of misfortunate and poor performance characterised Checo’s weekend at the Losail circuit. The 33-year-old secured only one point in Qatar – being hit off in the Sprint and receiving several track limits penalties on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton’s contract with George Russell prevented him from closing the gap to Perez in the standings. In addition to this, the regression at Aston Martin means that second place overall is still attainable.
This means that, under the circumstances, relatively few points were lost.
However, considering the 200-point gap to Max Verstappen, Perez’s failure to guarantee P2 overall is a concern. The senior personnel at Red Bull are beginning to issue warnings about Perez’s current form.
Helmut Marko is always open when providing his perspective, but Christian Horner’s comments post-race in Qatar were also quite pressing.
Speaking after last weekend’s action, the Red Bull advisor was unequivocal in emphasising the need to make improvements:
“Checo had a shocking race. He had a terrible weekend,” motorsport-total quotes him as saying.
“But now it becomes critical when two such strong drivers are at McLaren.
“I hope we can save second place [in the Champonship]. It looked quite comfortable for a while, but now the lead is melting. Checo has to deliver now.”
Evidently, the final stretch of the season has added importance for Sergio Perez. Considering the trajectory of McLaren – and the inevitable threat posed by Mercedes – Red Bull will be looking to optimise its 2024 lineup.
Perez must quickly produce results, and not just in the short term, either. The 6-time race winner must prove that he can adapt to the RB19 and its characteristics.
Otherwise, the pressure and insecurity surrounding his position will only increase as winter approaches.