Sergio Pérez, the number 2 who challenges Red Bull and Max Verstappen

The other hit of the Formula 1 circuits in 2022 is him. Behind the reigning world champion, Max Verstappen, his teammate Sergio Pérez is the one who has achieved the most successful first part of the season. As the paddock runs at Silverstone (Great Britain), Sunday July 3, for the 10th round of the season, the Mexican is in second place in the drivers’ standings with 129 points (46 lengths from Verstappen), a victory and five podiums.

This good start to the year comes as no surprise to Cyril Abiteboul, former boss of the Renault team: « He is a rider who has a lot of experience, with more than 200 races to his name, who knows how to be stable and consistent in an environment where he feels good. » At 32, Pérez is playing his 12th season in the premier category, where he shows all his accuracy on the track and his aggressiveness. « I have always found it very solid, very clean, and today it pays off »supports Cyril Abiteboul.

In 2021, for his first exercise in the Austrian team, Sergio Pérez played his role as a model teammate to the end, finishing fourth in the drivers’ classification. This year, even if he is still in the position of follower, the Mexican has taken on a new dimension, especially since his victory in Monaco on May 29. « He entered the closed club of winners in the principality. It is also part of the magic of this sport to give certain achievements more than they bring inbelieves Cyril Abiteboul. Winning in Monaco in the way he did gave him a certain aura. »

What to question his status and challenge Max Verstappen to the end for the title? Dfor six seasons, Red Bull drove a lot for the Dutchman, the house prodigy, who grew up at the same time as the team, even if it meant exhausting the other pilot. “There is no hierarchy with Max”yet assured « Checo » in an interview with Canal+ after the announcement of the contract extension at the end of May.

Sergio Pérez (left) and Max Verstappen (center) on the podium at the Azebaijan Grand Prix, in Baku, on June 12, 2022. (FLORENT GOODEN via AFP)

On the track, with one of the best cars on the grid, which has combined power and reliability since the start of the season, the two drivers will have all the weapons to continue their battle. « It’s going to be interesting to follow. Some of it is bound to be in Pérez’s gloves »assures Cyril Abiteboul.

But politics and internal management will also get involved. The situation is a textbook example of management and the hierarchy between the drivers within the same team. « The question is whether Red Bull is going to be threatened in the constructors’ standings, whether they are going to need to do team racesanalyzes Cyril Abiteboul. Either they will be threatened, and they will easily have the rationality to give team instructions to secure and consolidate their first place. Either they will not be threatened, which will leave room to maintain a battle for the drivers’ championship.

The collective creed is precisely that defended by Christian Horner, the boss of the team, who highlights the collective aspect. « They are part of a team. It’s not Sergio Pérez Racing or Max Verstappen Racing, it’s Red Bull Racing »he explained to Bloomberg on June 1. « They are an important link in the chain, but it is vital that they are aware that the ambition of the team is greater than their own »he added.

More than ten years ago, the strong rivalry between Sebastian Vettel, who became four-time world champion, and Mark Webber, his teammate, shook the young Red Bull house, which had not always been able to manage the tension. The team was able to learn from this, believes the former boss of Renault: « The Red Bull organization has matured. It is better able to control real internal competition ». Perhaps this Sunday, at Silverstone, where Verstappen and Pérez start 2nd and 4th respectively on the grid.

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