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The risks of Pink Bull re-signing Perez

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One way or the other, the information that Pink Bull has re-signed Sergio Perez for one more two seasons, taking his tenure on the group to 6 years, isn’t a shock. However maybe it ought to be, given the Mexican’s performances alongside Max Verstappen.

A case might be made for it being the improper transfer for Pink Bull and, certainly, Formulation 1, so let’s make it.

Any impartial fan needs the highest seats to be taken by one of the best drivers. It stands to purpose you’d wish to have as a lot competitors on the entrance as attainable. And from a group’s perspective, you usually wish to rating as closely with each automobiles as attainable. Constructors’ championship factors imply, fairly actually, prizes.

Pink Bull has had a dominant sufficient automobile that it hasn’t needed to fear about this because the floor impact guidelines arrived in 2022. Famously, Verstappen would have gained the constructors’ crown final yr on his personal.

However latest proof suggests the sector is catching up – Ferrari is simply 24 factors behind within the constructors’ standings – and Pink Bull won’t have that luxurious in future. Given the top quality of every part else Pink Bull does, it appears just a little unusual to have that chink in its armour.

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For these feeling we’re being harsh on Perez, a well-liked determine who earned an opportunity in a frontrunning group after years of performing strongly within the midfield, let’s have a look at a number of the info.

Perez hasn’t had a glittering begin to the season and at the moment sits fifth within the standings heading to Montreal

Photograph by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Firstly, on the supertimes matrix, Perez is the worst-performing driver in comparison with his team-mate in 2024 aside from Logan Sargeant at Williams.

Supertimes are based mostly on the quickest single lap by every driver at every race weekend, expressed as a share of the quickest single lap general (100.000%) and averaged over the season. In different phrases, it’s a measure of uncooked tempo:

Quickest-slowest supertimes hole

POS Crew Drivers Hole (seconds)
1 Alpine Ocon-Gasly 0.051
2 McLaren Norris-Piastri 0.087
3 Mercedes Russell-Hamilton 0.190
4 Aston Martin Alonso-Stroll 0.233
5 RB Tsunoda-Ricciardo 0.329
6 Ferrari Leclerc-Sainz 0.351
7 Haas Hulkenberg-Magnussen 0.516
8 Sauber Bottas-Zhou 0.542
9 Pink Bull Verstappen-Perez 0.642
10 Williams Albon-Sargeant 0.914

Some will argue that Verstappen is a tricky benchmark and, seeing because the Dutchman is already changing into considered one of F1’s greats, that’s true. However this overlooks two issues.

The primary is that prime groups are inclined to make use of prime drivers; you’re at all times going to return up in opposition to one of the best on the entrance and Perez isn’t alone in having a tricky colleague.

Perez hasn't won a race since Baku last year, and missed out on a golden opportunity at Miami in 2023 to Verstappen

Perez hasn’t gained a race since Baku final yr, and missed out on a golden alternative at Miami in 2023 to Verstappen

Photograph by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The opposite is that no driver, nevertheless sensible, can take a automobile sooner round a circuit than it may go. The perfect would possibly get to 99% however they’ll’t defy physics; the job of the superb driver in opposition to a fantastic one is to get as shut as attainable.

Perez’s hole to Verstappen on uncooked velocity has additionally been fairly constant. This isn’t about one of many much-discussed ‘Perez off his recreation’ moments. In 2021 he was 0.7% behind on common throughout the season, in 2022 0.545% and in 2023 0.761%. These are large gaps in a contemporary F1 context.

For comparability, Valtteri Bottas was 0.116% behind Lewis Hamilton throughout their 5 seasons collectively, whereas in 2018 Daniel Ricciardo was 0.138% behind Verstappen. Alex Albon, a far much less skilled F1 driver than Perez, was 0.784% behind Verstappen in 2020 and he misplaced his Pink Bull drive…

Perez scored 48% of Verstappen’s whole in 2021, a yr when Pink Bull arguably had a touch higher automobile than Mercedes and gained the drivers’ championship however misplaced the constructors’ crown

You might argue that uncooked velocity isn’t Perez’s best energy, that he’s higher on the races. However even there he can not often get near an unhindered Verstappen, who has proved higher at sustaining tyre life whereas lapping shortly, one thing that was beforehand thought-about a Perez energy.

At the beginning of 2022, Autosport took on the problem of discovering one of the best quantity two drivers in F1 historical past. Through the course of that analysis, we picked out three lessons of team-mate based mostly on their share of their primary’s factors rating.

PLUS: Finding F1’s greatest number two driver

If a driver scored 80% or extra of their group chief, that tended to imply a group really had two equal quantity ones or at the least a ‘number one.5’ shut sufficient to present the lead driver a headache.

As followers, that is the type of mixture we most wish to see, however it may be problematic for groups, as most famously seen with Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet at Williams, and Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at McLaren.

Drivers scoring 55-79% are usually ideally suited as helpful quantity two drivers for a number one group. Assume Bottas or Rubens Barrichello.

Bottas got closer to Hamilton's points tally in 2021 than Perez did to Verstappen, which was crucial in Mercedes taking the constructors' championship that year

Bottas obtained nearer to Hamilton’s factors tally in 2021 than Perez did to Verstappen, which was essential in Mercedes taking the constructors’ championship that yr

Photograph by: Mark Sutton

These managing 55% or much less are usually not doing sufficient, unreliability and misfortune apart, and might price a group a constructors’ title.

Perez scored 48% of Verstappen’s whole in 2021, a yr when Pink Bull arguably had a touch higher automobile than Mercedes and gained the drivers’ championship however misplaced the constructors’ crown. Bottas scored 58% of Hamilton’s whole, which made the distinction.

Perez improved to 67% in 2022, fell to 50% in opposition to an admittedly outstanding rating from Verstappen final yr, and is at the moment on 63%. Throughout their time collectively at Pink Bull, Perez has racked up 887 factors in comparison with Verstappen’s 1593.5. That’s just below 56%, perilously near dropping into the hazard zone.

In a wider context, F1 additionally wants as many aggressive drivers on the entrance as it may get. That was this author’s frustration throughout Kimi Raikkonen’s second stint at Ferrari, the place he was constantly the sixth-best performer throughout the highest three groups. Charles Leclerc virtually instantly confirmed that Sebastian Vettel wasn’t unbeatable at Ferrari when he arrived in 2019.

When one group is dominating, as Pink Bull has for the previous two years, it makes an enormous distinction if the 2 drivers in one of the best automobile are evenly matched. McLaren’s domination within the late-Eighties was nonetheless fascinating because of the duel between Senna and Prost, whereas Nico Rosberg was shut sufficient to Hamilton throughout 2014-16 to at the least imply that the results of every race wasn’t a foregone conclusion. The hole between the 2 Pink Bulls because the begin of 2022 has undoubtedly made F1 much less thrilling.

None of that’s Pink Bull’s concern, after all. However what it ought to be involved about is ensuring it has all bases coated and its second seat has been an issue since Ricciardo left on the finish of 2018.

Pink Bull’s junior programme, which has performed a lot for motorsport, hasn’t fairly produced an appropriate alternative, although it’s in all probability truthful to say Pierre Gasly and Albon have turn into extra full performers since they left the senior group.

This isn’t to say Perez shouldn’t be an F1 driver. Certainly, his data of Pink Bull and expertise as a six-time race winner in his 265 begins might be invaluable to one of many groups additional down the grid, however we’ve now seen sufficient to know he’s not fairly a topliner.

Perez has rarely been able to match Verstappen in his time at Red Bull, allowing his team-mate a clear path to glory

Perez has not often been in a position to match Verstappen in his time at Pink Bull, permitting his team-mate a transparent path to glory

So, who ought to Pink Bull have gone for? For a group with the cash and dynamism it has proven up to now, it’s stunning it hasn’t made extra of an effort to go and get one other large title, corresponding to Verstappen’s mate Lando Norris. Or gone for Carlos Sainz, one of the best driver at the moment obtainable.

There are even some left-field choices, corresponding to Yuki Tsunoda, given his nice performances in opposition to RB team-mate Ricciardo, or Esteban Ocon, although he has an much more tumultuous previous with Verstappen than Sainz.

Preserving Verstappen blissful is, after all, a main concern. Pink Bull is aware of that, even when it produces a merely aggressive automobile, Verstappen may have it at or close to the entrance, which is perhaps essential in a post-Adrian Newey/post-Honda period.

Pink Bull is clearly banking on conserving Verstappen regardless of all of the latest turmoil, however even that may not be sufficient to make sure profitable constructors’ championship successes

Nevertheless it might be in actual bother if he decides to go elsewhere. May Perez actually lead the group?

Given the very fact he failed to complete second within the 2022 factors race and is at the moment fifth, certainly not. So Pink Bull is clearly banking on conserving Verstappen regardless of all of the latest turmoil, however even that may not be sufficient to make sure profitable constructors’ championship successes in 2025-26. Both method, Pink Bull has left itself weak.

McLaren bent over backwards to maintain Senna within the early Nineties – some argued to the detriment of automobile growth such have been his wage calls for – however he jumped ship to Williams as quickly as he may. Even with a younger Mika Hakkinen within the wings, McLaren didn’t even win one other race for 3 years…

Could Red Bull depend on Perez if Verstappen did depart?

May Pink Bull depend upon Perez if Verstappen did depart?

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