By any measure, it is impossible to call Max Verstappen humble! In an exclusive interview with Viaplay on 6 November 2022, Max Verstappen warns Sergio Perez by stating his belief that the no 2 driver in a team should be realistic about their skills. He went on to say that no 2 drivers who have bigger ambitions will find themselves out of a job! (paraphrased)
During the interview, Max Verstappen spoke about his “Picture Perfect 2022,” where he won 15 races in the season – compared to 20 victories in his career before 2022. During the interview, Max Verstappen warns Sergio Perez that the number 2 drivers in a team should know their place.
Although he speaks from a place of great success, Max Verstappen is quite clear that he considers himself the better driver, and that other number two drivers should be realistic about their skill level.
Max Verstappen Warns Sergio Perez
Rather ominously, Max Verstappen has said that the number two drivers in a team who are not realistic about their skills will have a short career in F1.
Although Max Verstappen never mentioned Sergio Perez by name, the statements were pointed and left little doubt about how he views teammates and puts the team’s interests above his own.
During the interview, he used Valtteri Bottas as an example, saying that at the beginning of the season, Valtteri Bottas would come out of the “stocks” quickly, but the impetus soon died out.
Max Verstappen believes that F1 “second” drivers must accept their limitations and highlighted Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes career as an example.
Valtteri Bottas was at Mercedes for five years; however, he never really threatened Lewis Hamilton for the crown at that time.
The same could also be said for Nico Rosberg, who only managed to win one world title due to Lewis Hamilton’s problems with his car and tires.
Perhaps the difference between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton is that Lewis let his driving do the talking and was never so direct in his statement regarding his teammate’s skill level.
George Russel has taken over the second spot at Mercedes. There is no question that he is the future No 1 driver – possibly Number One in the championship.
Where Does This Leave Sergio Perez?
There is no question that the team dynamic at Red Bull has reached an interesting stage.
Max Verstappen is the King and seems to basically call the shots. Sergio Perez seems to be a few places down in the hierarchy and must be feeling a little vulnerable.
This is even though he has succeeded in a way neither Alex Albon nor Pierre Gasly could.
Despite his exceptional skill and willingness to support the team, Max Verstappen seems to treat him as something of an underling. From the outside, the relationship does not look healthy.
This was born out in Brazil, and Abu Dhabi, where Max, very petulantly, refused to help Sergio Perez win second place in the championship.
Where Will Daniel Ricciardo Fit In?
After having a terrible time at McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo has been given a lifeline by Christian Horner and is returning as the no 3, reserve, and test driver.
With Daniel Ricciardo returning to Red Bull as something of a returning prodigal son, it is clear that Red Bull has a backup plan if the relationship between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez goes any further South.
Most commentators have stated that Daniel Ricciardo returning to this position is a backward step from which he probably won’t recover.
Maybe, just maybe, there is more to the move than meets the eye!
Whatever happens, Daniel Ricciardol is “home” amongst friends, and his easygoing, ebullient personality will help lighten the team’s mood.
In the meantime, all you “second” drivers in the ten formula one teams – if you heed the words of young Max Verstappen, know your place, and don’t try too hard because it will just end your career.