Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Sergio Perez’s loss of form is “bizarre”, given that the Red Bull driver was seen as a title contender at the start of the season.
After winning two of the opening four races, Perez was viewed as Max Verstappen’s only competitor for the title, something which changed in rapid fashion.
Losing to Verstappen at the Miami Grand Prix was seen by many as a real eye-opening moment for the 33-year-old, given that he started on pole whereas the Dutchman started in ninth.
A five-race run of no Q3 appearances followed for Checo after Miami, before he finally returned to the final stage of qualifying in Hungary.
By that point though, he’d already fallen well behind Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship.
The Mexican has just struggled for any real consistency, whilst he’s also making far too many mistakes.
This was proven at the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend, where he threw away a second-place finish with two costly driver errors.
Wolff “cannot comprehend” how it’s all gone so horribly wrong for Perez this season, given that the experienced driver is a “multiple Grand Prix winner”.
“Odd, bizarre,” Wolff said at the Dutch GP last weekend.
“Checo’s not an idiot. We have seen in all these years he is a grand prix winner, multiple grand prix winner, and he was at Racing Point, so I cannot comprehend.
“We’ve seen that Max has destroyed every single teammate that was with him, so whether it’s his ability to create a car around himself that is just very tricky to control but fast if you can, and that creates those gaps.”
One theory behind Perez’s struggles is that Red Bull have developed the car around Verstappen, something which has previously been denied by the Milton Keynes-based team.
Perez is more than aware that he’s been a “little behind” in recent races and has admitted that some of the recent developments to the RB19 haven’t suited him, something which has forced him to “work harder”.
“In the last races I was a little behind and always consciously thinking about how I should drive the car,” Perez said.
“Sometimes, with the way the car has been developed, it doesn’t really suit me. I have to work harder to get there.”