Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard has claimed that Max Verstappen’s dominance over Sergio Pérez isn’t because of the car potentially suiting the Dutchman more, something that the Mexican has hinted at.
2022 was a remarkable season for Verstappen, as he claimed an easy second consecutive Drivers’ Championship, following little challenge from Charles Leclerc and Pérez.
Pérez had looked like a title challenger for the first half of the season, after claiming several podiums and a famous victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Checo fell away, though, as the year progressed, before making a late comeback at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Mexican has suggested himself that the RB18 was more suited to Verstappen than him, hinting at that being why he ended 149 points behind the Dutchman.
Ex-Red Bull driver Coulthard disagrees with this and believes people can “very well” see the difference between the two Red Bull drivers, “whether people like Max or not”.
“It is absolutely not just down to the car,” Coulthard told Motorsport.com.
“You can see that very well in the comparison between Max and Checo. Just look at what Checo has done this year and what Max has shown. There is quite a difference in that, whether people like Max or not.”
Pérez’s season did bizarrely fall away mid-season, with Verstappen having also ramped up the pace dramatically as the calendar reached the summer break.
Himself and Verstappen were considerably closer at the start of the year than they were midway through, with Checo having admitted the developments of the RB18 were a “little bit” in favour of the Dutchman, rather than him.
“I think in the beginning, I was more comfortable,” Pérez said after the summer break.
“I would feel like every time I came to a weekend in FP1 I was already easily happy with the balance, and things were coming naturally. As the season progressed, I feel like it has become harder and harder.
“Every weekend, I have to really go deep into the analysis, and I’m not as comfortable as I was with the car.” When asked if the development of the car had swung in Verstappen’s favour, he responded: “It’s a little bit in that direction.”
Tensions certainly toppled over between the pair towards the end of the year, with Verstappen having wrongly defied team orders at the Brazilian Grand Prix at the penultimate round of the season.
Red Bull insisted that the 25-year-old relinquished P6 to Checo; however, the Dutchman failed to do so.
According to reports, Verstappen failed to give the place to his team-mate after believing that he crashed on purpose during Q3 at Monaco, in an attempt to stop the double World Champion from claiming pole.
Their relationship became even frostier after Pérez’s father decided to get involved, by telling the media that Verstappen is “feeling the hot breath” of his son.
“Max is already feeling the hot breath of Checo in his helmet today,” Pérez’s father said after the Brazilian GP.
“He has never had an equal partner, the others were much more inferior. Checo wins the races Max does not win, the really difficult ones.”