Sergio Perez’s 2023 Formula 1 season has seen a drastic shift in fortunes, prompting Gerhard Berger to advise the Mexican driver to leave Red Bull Racing, lest he risk growing “weaker because the mistakes will increase.”
Perez’s season has been a tale of two halves, transitioning from a title contender to fighting for his career in the span of just a few races.
In the initial stages of the season, Perez found himself in the thick of the title battle, securing two victories and two second-place finishes within the first five races.
However, the turning point arrived with his second-place finish at the Miami Grand Prix, where he was overtaken by teammate Max Verstappen despite starting from pole position.
This marked the beginning of a challenging period for Perez, as Verstappen went on to claim ten consecutive victories.
Perez’s struggles were exacerbated by a slump in his qualifying performance, leading to a notable absence from the winner’s circle since his triumph in Azerbaijan earlier in the season.
He has only managed five podium finishes since then, with his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the championship standings reduced to a mere 30 points, with five races left in the season.
Amid swirling rumours and speculation, fuelled by Helmut Marko and occasionally denied by Christian Horner, regarding Perez’s future at Red Bull, Gerhard Berger advocates a proactive approach.
He suggests that Perez should consider leaving the team to seek a change of scenery, one where he can regain his confidence and have a teammate he can challenge.
“I say, Perez has to leave Red Bull Racing!” Berger declared on ServusTV’s ‘Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar-7’ program.
“Perez needs a team in which he can grow again. You need a team-mate you can beat so that you create strength.
“Perez will not be able to do that next to Max Verstappen.
“He will only become weaker because the mistakes will increase.”
Berger emphasised that the focus should not solely be on winning, as Max Verstappen’s performances are unlikely to deteriorate.
This call for change aligns with Marko’s recent push for Perez to take matters into his own hands and seek alternatives.
Christian Horner, on the other hand, has offered his support to Perez, expressing a willingness to guide and assist him during this challenging period.
However, the conflicting perspectives from Red Bull’s top decision-makers, combined with Perez’s recent struggles, have left the driver in a precarious situation.
Helmut Marko’s stance on the matter has also evolved, initially suggesting a change of climate and team for Perez.
However, he later emphasised the importance of honouring Perez’s contract and Red Bull’s limited alternatives, despite previously hinting at potential replacements from the AlphaTauri team.