The difference between Verstappen and Pérez: ‘He complained and whined, but he did it’

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The difference between Verstappen and Pérez: 'He complained and whined, but he did it'

Max Verstappen was out of the race early in Australia and with the dominant RB20 it was only logical that Sergio Pérez would win the Australian Grand Prix. That didn’t happen and so the question is: does the car have any weaknesses, is Pérez disappointing or perhaps even both? “He wasn’t where he needed to be,” says former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley on the BBC’s F1: Checkered Flag podcast.

According to the Brit, Pérez should have stood up in Australia, because even though he started from fifth place, a podium or victory had to be possible. ‘If you are Red Bull and you don’t have Max Verstappen, what do you have?’ he wonders out loud. “Sergio was not in second place where he should be,” he continues. “This perhaps shows an even bigger problem within Red Bull.”

Pérez must win when Verstappen cannot

Commentator Harry Benjamin agrees with Priestley. “It was very disappointing,” he says. “His job is to be number two.” Pérez finished the race in P5, where he also started. He was therefore unable to fulfill his role within the team. ‘He has to be there and take the win when Max can’t. Until now, there has been no need to fulfill that role,” Benjamin emphasizes. The fact that Pérez could not demonstrate this in Australia, when it was necessary, is indicative, according to him. ‘He should have been there. Even if he had started from third place, where he qualified, his pace would not have been enough.’

Red Bull experienced some problems during the race weekend in Australia, and the men also see that. However, there is a clear difference between the numbers one and two of the Austrian racing team. “Max struggled too, complaining and whining,” says Priestley. “But when it came down to it on Saturday during qualifying, he did it.” The former mechanic of Lewis Hamilton, among others, has praise for the Dutchman. ‘He put in an incredible lap for pole.’ He managed to achieve that even though the team was not having an easy time. “They had to work for it,” says the Brit. ‘Pérez did not come close to Max’s performance. In the race he was miles away.

Pérez may not be the right man for the seat next to Verstappen

Benjamin believes that Pérez no longer deserves the seat next to Verstappen. “The race confirmed that Pérez is not the right man for that second seat,” he believes. “That’s what you see here.” Like Priestley, he does not think Pérez would have won the match from third place. ‘Even if he had started from P3, he would still have been overtaken by Charles Leclerc. That is the problem.’

The former mechanic subtly suggests that Red Bull may have to look for another second man. “They created the luxury of dominance on most circuits,” he said, referring to the fact that Red Bull was consistently far ahead of the competition last year. “It didn’t matter that Pérez was behind Verstappen, as long as he was nearby.” In Australia the team did not have that luxury and so something may have to change at the team under Christian Horner. “If Ferrari gets closer, and they will, they need two drivers who perform well,” Priestley emphasizes.

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