Sergio Pérez’s starting crash during his home race in Mexico is the focus of this week’s Sky Sports F1 podcast. Although analysts understand why Pérez made the move, there is misunderstanding why the Mexican has so much difficulty securing P2 in the drivers’ championship. The only way to save his Red Bull seat is to grab podiums during the last three races, is the further conclusion.
Craig Slater and Tom McCluskey are guests of Matt Baker in the Sky Sports F1 podcast this week and the men start their analysis by looking back at Pérez’s failed overtake on Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen in Turn 1. The analysts understand that the Mexican made the move because of his status as a folk hero among his fans in Mexico, even though it did not turn out well for the driver. Pérez came into contact with Leclerc, after which he flew off the track and had to end his race early. Baker notes that Hamilton defended Pérez’s action, comparing it to what he himself had done in Qatar.
‘The fact that Pérez does not take a Red Bull 1-2 is very painful for the team’
McCluskey also finds it striking that Pérez is having so much difficulty securing P2 in the drivers’ championship this year, as the Mexican had no real close rival all season, until Hamilton started to catch up on him in the last few races. According to McCluskey, Hamilton potentially taking P2 could put Red Bull in a difficult position. ‘Red Bull has never had a 1-2 in the drivers’ championship. The fact that Pérez does not take a Red Bull 1-2 is very painful for Red Bull. Checo (Pérez, ed.) has the same car (as Verstappen, ed.), and he is a talented driver. So that’s very difficult, from Red Bull’s perspective.’
According to McCluskey, Hamilton only became a threat to Pérez in the championship later in the season, having struggled with his Mercedes car all season. “Lewis (Hamilton, ed.) on the other hand is in a car that still struggles with him, but without his disqualification in Austin, he would have had the same number of points as Pérez.” Slater agrees that Pérez should have found it relatively easy to take P2 this year, as there was no other prominent candidate for second place in the drivers’ championship for a long time.
Pérez must take podiums in the last three races
The men later discuss in the podcast what Pérez must do during the last three races of the season to retain his Red Bull seat for 2024. “Get podiums,” McCluskey is very clear in his answer. ‘It doesn’t even have to be P2, and he certainly doesn’t have to beat Max (Verstappen, ed.), because that is clearly too difficult, even in the same car. Pierre Gasly couldn’t do that either, neither could Alexander Albon. But it has to be a podium finish.’ According to McCluskey, qualifying is Pérez’s Achilles heel, but he thinks Abu Dhabi could suit the driver well in that area. Baker thinks that the Grand Prix of Las Vegas could also suit Pérez, because it is a street circuit, and Pérez has a reputation for always performing well on such circuits.
The rumors surrounding Fernando Alonso potentially joining Red Bull are also being discussed, but Slater does not think this will happen. “There’s no chance of that happening,” Slater is very clear. The analyst thinks that Alonso will simply stay with Aston Martin next year.