Former W series driver and Sky Sports pundit Naomi Schiff believes that Red Bull have designated Max Verstappen as their championship contender despite Sergio Perez’s victory in Monaco.
Perez out-qualified Verstappen for the second time this season in Monaco as he started the race third behind the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, and went on to win from the Spaniard after a terrible series of strategic errors from the Scuderia.
Verstappen snatched third from polesitter Leclerc as a result, and he now trails the Dutchman by nine points in the Drivers’ Championship, with Perez a further six points back in third.
Schiff, one of the presenters on Sky Sports’ ‘Any Driven Monday’ show, believes that, despite Perez’s almost immaculate performance last weekend, the reigning champion is still Red Bull’s focus, while Ferrari are yet to prioritise either of their drivers.
“Judging by the way it is going so far I would put my money on Max Verstappen,” she said.
“I think his team have clearly shown that putting technical issues aside which they seem to have overcome now, they know how to deal with these pressured moments when it seems like Ferrari at the moment are still finding their feet dealing with actually two drivers who are in contention whereas Red Bull have decided that Max is their number one driver.
“Perez is taking a back seat, that makes it easier for them to make strategic calls and at the moment they seem to have the better package.”
Matt Baker, who co-presents alongside the Rwandan-Belgian, also reckons that the Dutchman will go on to defend his title, despite there still being 15 races left of the season.
“It is a long season, anything can happen we have got a load of races left, we are not even a third of the way through the season yet. I would probably go Verstappen,” he added.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto was left ruing a miserable day, as Leclerc’s awful luck at his home race continued.
“Certainly disappointing for the result,” he told Sky Sports.
“I understand fully the disappointment of Charles as well, he was first.
“Finishing fourth means that something was wrong in the decisions we made.
“Clearly we need to review, we will do it, I believe that we underestimated the pace of the Intermediates at that stage.
“We could have called I think a lap earlier Charles, or later on we should have left him maybe outside, simply moving on with the extreme wet going then directly on the dry.
“These are mistakes that may happen, more important is lesson learned to understand why they happened, and I’m pretty sure that as a process we will do it.”
Red Bull now lead Ferrari by 36 points in the Constructors’ Championship having completely turned the title battle on its head in the last four races.