Mexican F1 driver Checo Perez (Sergio Perez) is in his third year with Red Bull, after replacing Alex Albon for the 2021 season. In 2021 he came in 4th in the driver’s world championship and in 2022 he achieved 3rd place. In 2023 he is currently in 2nd place.
Based on these statistics it would appear that Checo Perez is on an upward trajectory and his place in the team is assured. Unfortunately, these numbers do not give the whole story. The reality is that his teammate, Max Verstappen won the world championship in 2021 and 2022 and has been fully dominant in 2023.
Checo Perez has constantly been threatened by the 3rd place driver in each season as follows.
- 2022 – Charles Leclerc who eventually came 2nd in the championship.
- 2023 – Fernando Alonso who is biting at his heals.
What is the problem with Checo Perez?
In 2023 Max Verstappen has been able to fully deploy the strengths of the 2023 Red Bull RB19.
On the other hand, Checo Perez has had a number of false starts and made some unfortunate errors in 2023 which have compromised his position.
Checo Perez – Bahrain GP Results
Checo’s 2023 season started well, and he managed a close second (behind Max Verstappen) at the Bahrain GP.
Checo Perez – Saudi Arabian GP Results
He was even stronger at the Saudi Arabian GP where he finished in no 1 position.
Checo Perez – Australian GP Results
On his “push lap” of Q1 Checo locked up under braking into turn three. This sent him careering over the gravel and his car was RB19 beached, leaving it completely immobile.
That mistake put him into P20 for the race start. With some component changes he ended up starting from the pit lane.
The Australian race had 3 restarts and by the time the race ended he had moved up to P5. It was a respectable gain in positon.
Checo Perez – Azerbaijan GP Results
Azerbaijan was a triumph for Checo Perez where he finished in 1st place.
It looked like he had found his mojo and may actually start challenging Max Verstappen for the 2023 drivers’ championship.
Checo Perez – Miami GP Results
At Miami, the first (of three) races in America in 2023, Checo managed to secure pole position. Max Verstappen started in 5th place and on the face of it, it seemed like Checo was untouchable.
Max came through the pack with surgical skill, leaving him in 2nd place behind Checo. Surely, he wouldn’t be able to catch the leader? I mean they had the same cars. The reality was that Max outdrove Checo Perez and cleverly used the DRS zones to overtake and destroy Checo’s position.
The result was a 1st and 2nd position for Red Bull, and on the face of it a successful race for both drivers. The reality was that Checo was comprehensively outdriven by max.
Checo Perez – Monaco GP Results
Monaco was a nightmare for Sergio. In Q1 Checo Perez lost control of his RB19 on the entry into Sainte Devote. He slid into the barrier on the outside of the corner and suffered significant damage.
The red flags were deployed, and the Red Bull car was unceremoniously craned off the track, giving everyone a great view of the car’s underside.
Max started on pole and finished in 1st place.
At the other end of the grid, Checo Perez started in 20th place and managed to power past the last 4 cars to finish in P16.
Checo Perez – Spanish GP Results
In Spain Max started on pole position and ended in P1.
Checo started in P12, and despite managing to move into P4, could not get past George Russel and Lewis Hamilton in their newly resurgent Mercedes.
He finsihed in P4.
Checo Perez – Canadian GP Results
Once again Max led the race from the front and finished in P1 in Canada.
Sergio struggled in Q2 and got caught in the rain which resulted in him qualifying in P12.
He finished the race in P6.
Checo Perez – Austrian GP Results
Predictably, at the Red Bull ring, Max started 1st and finished in the same position.
Once again Checo Perez had a difficult qualifying session. In Q2 his second flying lap was deleted for exceeding track limits.
Although his 3rd attempt would have put him in 3rd spot, it was deleted as well. This meant that he started the race in P15.
Sergio Prez drove well and managed to finish in 3rd place behind Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.
Checo Perez – British GP Results
At Silverstone Max started from the front and ended in the same position.
Q1 started well for Checo Perez. On his 1st flying lap he finished in overall P1 position. As the track conditions improved his time started to tumble.
Where Does This Put Checo Perez?
Sergio’s inconsistent performance is the opposite of that demonstrated by Max Verstappen. Despite Red Bull’s claims to the contrary the team must be looking to the future. This will include a discussion about where Checo Perez fits in with the long-term plans.
His contract officially ends in 2024, however Red Bull is renowned for taking action very decisively. One only needs to look at the situation with Nyck Devries (ex-AlphaTauri driver) who was terminated after race 10 of the season.
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has hit out at the rumors that have started regarding Checo Perez’s early termination. Marko insists there is no danger of Checo being dropped mid-season and that he is still making a solid contribution to the constructor’s championship.
Who would Red Bull Replace Checo Perez With?
While it is unlikely that Red Bull will replace Checo mid-season, an early cancellation of the contract for the 2024 season is looking more likely.
If that happens which drivers would Red Bull replace him with?
Lando Norris, the lead McLaren driver has all the talent he needs to challenge the front of the pack. Before Silverstone he would possibly have been an easy target for Red Bull to do a deal with.
However, with the newly resurgent McLaren, and his 2nd place finish at Silverstone, it is unlikely he could he prized away from his current team.
Ricciardo is a name that has always been held up as an easy replacement to slot in for the rest of the year. That was up until after the Silverstone grand prix. Red Bull summarily dismissed Nyck Devries and Ricciardo was parachuted into the Alpha Tauri seat.
It would be a messy exercise to move Daniel again in 2023. However, Daniel has always said his goal is to get back into a leading team’s driving seat.
What if he has been deployed to Alpha Tauri to see how he goes with a possibe transfer to Red Bull planned for 2024?
That move makes the most sense for me.
In my opinion one of the biggest strategic errors that Red Bull made was to sack Alex Albon. Since then, he has developed into an accomplished mature driver who is able to get his WIlliams into grid positions that it doesn’t really deserve.
His 2023 has been an incredible season so far. When asked if he would go back to Red Bull he has been very firm in saying no. He sees his future in a developing Williams that will become more competitive over time.
If Ferrari gets its act together and can stop making silly strategy mistakes in all likelihood he will stay there.
If not then he is a possible replacement.
Checo Perez is a great driver, and if he can get out of his current slump will keep his position at Red Bull. If his progress impacts on the potential for Red Bull to lose the constructors championship then his future will be in jeopardy.
As long as Max Verstappen is leading so decisevely and is in a position to winteh constructors title with little input from Checo Perez I suggest he is secure till the end of the season.
After that it will all deppend on his performance for the rest of the year.