Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard has warned Sergio Pérez to not “pull a sickie” during 2023, as the presence of Daniel Ricciardo looms over the Mexican driver.
Pérez is in the strange position in 2023 of having a former Red Bull driver working alongside himself and Max Verstappen, with Ricciardo having been signed as the team’s development driver for the upcoming season.
He is also set to fill the role of reserve driver when Liam Lawson is tied-up in Japan, with the New Zealander competing in Super Formula this season.
With this in mind, it’s more important than ever before that Pérez takes the fight to Verstappen, to give Red Bull no reason to replace him with Ricciardo.
Ricciardo has expressed his intent on getting a full-time seat in 2024, with Red Bull tipped by many as the most likely destination for the 33-year-old.
The Austrians won’t want Verstappen and Pérez to clash in the same manner in which they did at Interlagos, where the duo’s relationship turned incredibly sour.
With all of that in mind, Coulthard has suggested how Pérez can take the battle to Verstappen and keep his seat at Red Bull for the final year of his contract, which expires at the end of 2024.
“Having been in a similar situation to Sergio where I was up against Mika and up against Kimi, you’ve just got to leave no stone unturned,” Coulthard said.
“Physical training, mental training. The only way he can improve his qualifying speed is in the car or in the simulator but in the simulated world, there’s no pain, there’s no consequence. You’ve got to be out on track.
“They’re limited in how much track testing they could do but given the fact that Red Bull took him from basically retirement from Formula 1, because no one else wanted him, and then he’s been given this platform of a car that’s capable of winning, I think I would have been out in an old generation of car all winter testing and investing my money to just be better than when I finished the season.”
Coulthard has reiterated that Checo must “change” his approach in order to improve his performance next season, with the Mexican having been fairly inconsistent in 2022.
Whilst the former Red Bull driver doesn’t see anyone beating Verstappen, he has given his opinion on how Pérez can get closer to him.
“Max is a benchmark, I doubt very much anyone can be quicker than him,” Coulthard stated.
“But it’s the consistency of the great drivers that are just able to do it time and time again.
“Checo has to look at how many victories Max had and how many he had and look at the season. It’s not like he’s just having to polish a few corners. This is like a major rewrite, isn’t it? This is like a software update.
“If you use the same ingredients for the cake, you’re gonna get the same outcome. You’ve got to change it if you want something different.”
Should Pérez not improve this year then it wouldn’t come as a shock if Red Bull bring Ricciardo in to replace him, with the Austrians having no mercy when it comes to a driver underperforming.
According to Coulthard, Pérez must maintain his “health and fitness” and not give Ricciardo any opportunity to get into his car and show what he can do.
“Keep a close eye on his health and fitness,” Coulthard said.
“Don’t pull a sickie somewhere.
“When I was in the McLaren, I did nine years there and I did every test and never missed a race even when I felt terrible, even when I was getting out of the car and being sick.
“Because I knew the minute I let the test driver get in the car, it gave him an opportunity to show how good he was. So I didn’t let him get in the car. He could talk all day long, but he couldn’t put in a lap time. So you’ve got to defend your territory.
“It’s the old Jerry Maguire line – this isn’t show friends it’s show business.”