Viaplay analyst and former Formula 1 driver Christijan Albers believes that Red Bull Racing could not afford to let Sergio Pérez stay in 2024 after they very easily dismissed Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon and Nyck de Vries. According to the Dutchman, the gap between Pérez and Max Verstappen is still too big and it is time for a driver to enter the second Red Bull who can keep up with Verstappen.
Red Bull is known for being merciless towards new talents who still have to prove themselves. Verstappen was placed in the car halfway through the 2016 season, with Helmut Marko not seeming to care about Daniil Kvyat who was suddenly demoted to then Toro Rosso. Gasly was allowed to try in 2019, but his results were also not to his liking. Albon can also talk about that. The last driver that Red Bull fired is De Vries, he was allowed to leave after eleven races and was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo. Following what happened to them, some find it a miracle that Pérez still has a seat at the Austrian racing team and that it also appears that he will drive his fourth season alongside Verstappen in 2024.
Despite the fact that the Mexican is second in the championship and finished third in 2022, the differences between him and the three-time world champion are greater than ever. ‘Max is not only a natural talent, he is also one who has developed and matured. That combination is deadly for the field,” says Albers in Formula 1 Magazine’s Paddock Talk podcast. “It’s always the combination, because if you look at Pérez, he doesn’t do it,” says Albers. ‘He’s not of the same caliber either. I firmly believe that Max is on the throne.’ Verstappen has been incredibly dominant in 2022, and also became world champion in 2023 with a number of races still to go. After the summer break, Pérez had a series of weekends that did not exactly go smoothly. The Mexican received a lot of criticism for this.
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One of those races was the Grand Prix of Mexico, where his race was over after a collision with Charles Leclerc in the first corner. Pérez dived a little too enthusiastically into a hole that ultimately wasn’t there. ‘I saw two things that I respected: that he pushed Max through the grass in Austria and that in Mexico. Those times he really went for it,” says the former F1 driver, who believes that Pérez did not show enough courage at other times. “I don’t think Red Bull can afford to keep Pérez in the car after what they did with Gasly, Albon and De Vries. I think several factors play a role. I have nothing against Pérez, but the distance (with Verstappen, ed.) is simply too great. I would like to see Tsunoda get a chance, or a Lawson, he did very well. Tsunoda is making progress, but Pérez is standing still despite being next to the best driver in the field, from whom he can learn.’
‘Las Vegas Grand Prix result is just a casino’
This weekend Formula 1 will drive on the brand new circuit that has been constructed in Las Vegas. It’s getting quite cold, so the drivers and teams face new challenges. In any case, Albers expects Red Bull to be strong. “I can’t tell you the result, it’s just a casino,” says the Dutchman. ‘You have to deal with new asphalt, the search for balance, and it is very cold at night. Then Ferrari and Mercedes will do well. The balance is best at Red Bull. Perhaps not in qualifying, but certainly in the race,” the Viaplay analyst thinks. “Teams like Haas also have an advantage here.”
Regardless, there will be some questions for all teams. ‘Can you overtake easily? It is enough? Where does the DRS open? We’re going to experience that. It will be super interesting, it’s like driving on ice.’ It will then be difficult to get the tires up to temperature, especially when the drivers leave the pit lane. ‘Then they are cold again at the end of the pit lane. “So there’s a lot for the drivers to do and for the teams to do, which will be particularly important in qualifying.”