Why Red Bull are ‘happy’ for Sergio Perez to be 0.5s off Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen is responsible for 62.4% of Red Bull's points so far in 2023, as they continue to dominate.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen has been accused of breaking Sergio Perez, with ex-Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok noting it as the fourth driver the Dutchman has “broken”.

Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon and now Perez, have all buckled under the pressure of being alongside Verstappen, who is currently unbeatable.

The 25-year-old is on a run of eight consecutive wins, whilst he’s won 10 overall this season.

His dominance in the new era of the sport is breathtaking, with him having won 25 of the last 34 races since the new aerodynamic regulations were introduced.

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Perez on the other hand, has claimed just four wins in the same time period.

The Mexican had started 2023 with two wins in the opening four races but has since fallen 125 points behind Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship.

He simply can’t match his team-mate’s pace, with him having lost the lead after 17 laps last weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Perez led the opening stages before Verstappen worked his way to the front, having started from sixth.

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Over the next 27 laps, Verstappen built a gap of just over 22 seconds to Perez.

Chandhok though, believes things started to go wrong for Checo in Miami, where Verstappen won from ninth on the grid, whilst Perez finished second despite having started on pole.

“I will say the only other thing they appear to have broken is their second driver in some ways,” Chandhok said on the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“At the start of the year, I go back to the drive he put in, in Jeddah, but more importantly in Baku.

“Crofty [Sky Sports commentator, David Croft] and I were in the commentary box there saying he would have overtaken Max, let alone the strategy, he would have overtaken Max on track and won that race.

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“And it was a proper convincing performance, admittedly at one of his strongest circuits on the calendar. But ever since he got overtaken on whatever it was, lap 41 [48] in Miami – it’s just gone away from him.

“I look at what happened even at the weekend at Spa. Max got ahead of him and he put 22 seconds on him in 27 laps. That’s a big chunk of performance to put around a track where they are spending a lot of time at full throttle driving around in a straight line, essentially.

“To me, that is the cause of concern, the only cause of concern, in the Red Bull camp. Is this the fourth teammate that Max has potentially broken? Who can they have alongside him?

“Or do they just say, ‘you know what, we don’t really need anyone to be challenging him, we’re happy for somebody to be half a second off the pace because our car is good enough for Max to be able to deliver at that level’”.