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Red Bull hails Perez F1 season start in not getting “destroyed” by Verstappen

Red Bull has hailed Sergio Perez’s start to the Formula 1 season as a “big achievement” after he was not completely blown away by team-mate Max Verstappen.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Erik Junius

Perez finished the Bahrain Grand Prix 22.4 seconds behind Verstappen, his race compromised by a lowly grid position that left him trapped behind George Russell and the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz early on.

But once he had made his way forward, Perez found a run of pace that suggested he is more on top of this year’s RB20 than he had been in the team’s 2023 challenger at times last year.

As the Mexican bids to impress his bosses enough to earn a race contract for the 2025 season, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has said he took heart from the fact that his driver was not “destroyed” by Verstappen.

Asked by Autosport whether Perez’s pace was what the team wanted to see, Marko said: “Yes, it was a very good race for him. 

“Don’t forget that he was stuck behind the Mercedes and Ferrari cars for a while, but once he was in free air he showed competitive lap times.

“But yes, he has Max as his team-mate. So not to be destroyed by Max is already a big achievement.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also reckoned that Perez’s performance in Bahrain was exactly what the squad wanted to see from the Mexican.

Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, Adrian Newey, Chief Technology Officer, Red Bull Racing, celebrate in Parc Ferme

Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, Adrian Newey, Chief Technology Officer, Red Bull Racing, celebrate in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Asked after the race if there was a minimum target that Perez had been given to have a chance of extending his contract, Horner said: “There's no set criteria.

“He's got to do enough to earn that seat, and days like today are exactly what he's got to deliver.”

Perez feels that the concept change Red Bull has made for this season is one that is delivering for him, as he says the step forward is noticeable from the cockpit.

“I think it was definitely a risk to change the concept, but everything has been working,” he said.

“The car, it's very similar balance-wise to what we had last year but it’s just better in all regards.

“But we're still learning our new car like everyone is. So, I think when we take it to very different circuits, we're going to be learning a lot.

“Hopefully we keep this progression going and we are able to develop the car stronger than our rivals.”

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