With rumors regarding Perez’s future with Red Bull being up in the air, his latest slip up leaves him in a precarious position with just three races of the season remaining.
The pain etched on Sergio Perez’s face as he removed himself from his abandoned Red Bull car was clear for all to see.
Despite Perez’s dream of winning his home Grand Prix, the dream quickly turned into a nightmare as he attempted to complete a pass on Charles LeClerc on the very first corner which was never there. Clipping the Frenchman’s wing, Perez was catapulted into the air, forcing his car off the track and ending his chances before the race had really begun.
After a promising start to the 2022/203 season, it has turned into a disastrous campaign with this latest hiccup now leaving him with a real battle on his hands to ensure he secures second place in the Driver Standings.
Usually the focus on who finishes second in the Driver Standings isn’t as severe, but this season is different.
Red Bull has a car that will go down in Formula 1 history as one of the greatest cars ever built. Not only did Max Verstappen secure the Drivers Championship weeks ago, but the Flying Dutchman has already extended his record for the most overall number of victories in a season.
With Verstappen in a league of his own, Perez should be closer, not locked in a battle with Lewis Hamilton and a Mercedes car that has struggled for pace all season. In the race for second, Perez currently finds himself just twenty points clear of Hamilton and the gap would have been even smaller had Perez not been able to profit from Hamilton’s disqualification and Mercedes carelessness in the United States Grand Prix.
According to reports, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has issued Perez with an ultimatum, stating that the Mexican must finish in the top two of the standings if he is to maintain his seat with the team for the 2024 season. Although he is contracted to race, we have seen the Red Bull hierarchy aren’t afraid to make changes.
What does Perez need to do to secure his Red Bull spot in 2024?
Better qualifying performances
To keep his seat for next year, Perez simply must finish second in the overall Driver Standings and the best way he can do that is by finishing on the podium over the next three races.
According to the reports of the ultimatum issued by Horner, Red Bull wanted to see Perez finish on the podium in the five remaining races of 2023. He has already failed on that mission and will desperately need to turn his form around.
When out of the traffic of the rest of the grid, this Red Bull car has shown it is a monster. However, Perez hasn’t been able to exploit his car’s pace as he has often struggled in qualifying. He has only out-qualified Verstappen on two separate occasions this season and if Perez is to make that second place all his own, he simply must start putting better Saturdays together.
As Verstappen has proved, if in the clear, this car simply won’t be caught.
Be mindful of his rivals
Lewis Hamilton has already stated that the battle for second place doesn’t lie in hands. But it isn’t just Hamilton who shares that view, as betting sites such as FanDuel sportsbook will have the Red Bull drivers positioned at the top of the outright betting over the next three races.
However, there is no doubt that the Mercedes is starting to purr.
Although disqualified in the United States Grand Prix, Hamilton’s Mercedes was producing its quickest times. Whilst there were some doubts whether that performance could be replicated in Mexico, Hamilton jumped on Perez’s mistake and was able to finish second comfortably.
The Brit has already stated that securing second place in the Constructors Championship would mean a huge deal for his team and you can be assured that he will be gunning for his rival throughout the next three races.
The other driver that Perez must be aware of is Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo’s performance in Mexico would have made uncomfortable viewing.
Qualifying one spot ahead of Perez in 4th, Ricciardo was able to finish the race in seventh, posting one of Alpha Tauri’s best performances of the season.
With speculation rife that Ricciardo will be the man to supplant Perez, Perez knows he simply must perform better than the man down under to put those rumors to bed.