Partnering Verstappen is a ‘graveyard sentence,’ warns former Top Gear ‘Stig’

Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly have previously been axed by Red Bull having been comprehensively outperformed by Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix.v1

Former Formula 1 driver Perry McCarthy has compared being placed into the same team as Max Verstappen as a “graveyard sentence,” given the way the Dutchman ruthlessly out-performs his team-mates.

Verstappen has out-qualified a number of partners 90 times in 118 races since his arrival into the Red Bull team in 2016, and a failure to match his pace has led to the dismissal of Daniil Kvyat, Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly in recent years.

2016 and 2017 were the only seasons in which he failed to finish ahead of a team-mate in the championship, but this can be accredited to his inexperience in his first season in Red Bull, coupled with the fact that he joined the Milton Keynes-based team four races into the season.

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Further, a number of reliability issues in 2017 saw him end the season sixth behind Daniel Ricciardo.

However, he outperformed the Australian in 2018 despite a tricky start to the year that involved a Baku crash between the pair, before two wins in 12 races while Gasly managed a best finish of fourth in 2019 resulted in the Frenchman’s demotion back to Toro Rosso – the junior team from whom he had joined the main fold.

Albon would take over and, despite a promising second half of 2019, slumped to a 17-0 thrashing in 2020’s qualifying battle, finishing seventh in the championship while the Dutchman ended third with two wins. The Thai-Brit’s two podiums were not enough to maintain his place in the sport, and he would be replaced for 2021 by Perez.

A victory and five podiums for the Mexican, as well as providing ample support to Verstappen’s title success last year led Red Bull to award him another go in 2022.

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen on the podium in Austin, 2021.v1

McCarthy spoke to Formula1News.co.uk about the devastating manner in which the Dutchman has been able to dispatch his Red Bull team-mates over the years.

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The ex-Top Gear Stig suggests that it is a condemnation for a driver to slot into the team alongside one of the most ruthlessly fast racers in F1.

“I mean, it’s kind of like a graveyard sentence for his team-mate!” he told this publication.

“Because whoever’s his team-mate, you’re going there and Max is just going to be out-scoring you.

“You know, we’ve seen it with some brilliantly talent. [I’ve] always been a fan of and Alex Albon’s [and] Sergio Perez,

“Daniel Ricardo kind of left the team because he was thinking he’s going to get overshadowed.

“Max has really trounced all these other brilliant racing drivers. And that’s why Max actually was voted by all the Formula 1 team managers as the number one from last year’s, and that’s a really telling sign.

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“All the team managers going ‘this year we think it’s Max,’ you know, so whatever it is, we’re going to see Max right at the front.”

Perez is now the fifth team-mate Verstappen has partnered in his Formula 1 career since 2015, and he has previously stated that he would like the 31-year-old’s efforts last year to be rewarded with a fair shot at the title by Red Bull in the upcoming season.

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