Helmut Marko reveals perfect team-mate for Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez is 125 points behind Max Verstappen in the Drivers' Championship following the Dutchman's win in Spa.

Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko believes Nico Hulkenberg’s qualifying pace mixed with Sergio Perez’s racecraft would form the “perfect” team-mate for Max Verstappen, who claimed victory yet again on Sunday.

Verstappen recovered from sixth on the grid to win the Belgian Grand Prix, marking his eighth consecutive win and his 10th of 2023.

The reigning World Champion overtook Perez for the race lead on Lap 17, with Checo having gone on to finish 22 seconds behind Verstappen in second.

Perez simply didn’t have the pace to compete with his team-mate, who now leads the Drivers’ Championship by a healthy 125 points over the Mexican.

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Despite Perez having fallen so far behind Verstappen, Marko continues to have faith with him, although he joked that having Hulkenberg’s qualifying ability would be brilliant.

“That’s the right thought,” Marko told Motorsport-Total.com.

“The two would be the perfect qualifying and race combination.”

Red Bull have every intention of keeping Perez for 2024 and allowing him to complete his contract, despite reports that the Austrians are considering their options.

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“We have a contract with Perez until the end of 2024. He’s second in the World Championship. Why would there be a need for action?” Marko pointed out.

Marko went on to explain that Verstappen is simply a “completely different benchmark”, with nobody being able to defeat the two-time World Champion currently.

Because of this, Marko added that Perez is technically doing the best he can given Verstappen’s superiority over everyone.

“Verstappen is a completely different benchmark,” Marko said.

“The fact that Perez has to be within three-tenths of Max is interpreted benevolently by us. Sometimes it was more. Perez is second in the World Championship. That’s all for him possible. And he’s currently doing that.”

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“He delivers very good races, he overtakes well. Only the mistakes in qualifying are there.”

Perez would’ve scored a few points on Saturday in the sprint race had his sidepod not been punctured by Lewis Hamilton, something which caused the Mexican to retire.

The pair were jostling for P4 when contact was made, as they went side-by-side through the start of the final sector.