The Red Bull Racing driver enters the new Formula 1 year a year older, and hopefully wiser, though it remains to be seen if he can fulfill his high title expectations this year.
Pérez has managed to hold his position alongside Max Verstappen for three years, and is embarking on his fourth year.
Born on January 26, 1990, Pérez introduced himself to Formula 1 about 21 years later. Before that, the Mexican competed in various series including Formula BMW, A1GP, the British Formula 3 Championship, and the GP2 series, now known as Formula 2. In his Formula 1 career,
Pérez has driven for four teams so far. He started with Sauber for two years before moving to McLaren. He then had a long stint with Force India, a team that went through many name changes before eventually becoming Aston Martin.
From 2014, Pérez raced for seven seasons with Force India, later known as Racing Point, often impressing in a midfield car.
From 2011 to 2019, Pérez did not manage a win, but this changed in 2020. He clinched a chaotic Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020, marking his last race with Racing Point with a victory.
This win saw Pérez surpass Mark Webber for the most race starts before a first win. Webber won the 2009 German Grand Prix after 130 starts, while Pérez won Bahrain 2020 after 190 starts. Currently, Nico Hülkenberg holds the record among active Formula 1 drivers for the most starts without a win, standing at 199.
Red Bull seemed to have finally found its perfect second driver
At the end of the 2020 season, Pérez was in the right place at the right time. Red Bull didn’t want to continue with Alexander Albon, who had just completed a challenging year as Verstappen’s teammate. As the Red Bull car improved, the team needed a driver to partner with the Dutchman, to challenge for victories and put pressure on Mercedes.
In 2021, Pérez proved his worth as Verstappen’s right hand, aiding in securing his first world title. Pérez landed on the podium five times, including one win.
2022 was even better for Pérez. The RB19 performed splendidly, boosting the Mexican’s confidence. Although not matching Verstappen, he finished third in the championship, just three points behind Charles Leclerc, who had challenged Verstappen early in the season.
After a year with nine podiums and two wins, it seemed Pérez could take another step forward in 2023. Instead, it appeared he took a step back. Driver errors, misjudgments, and a lack of confidence led to a season filled with ups and downs.
Nevertheless, he finished second in the championship, albeit with half the points of Verstappen, who after the Miami Grand Prix repeatedly asserted his dominance.
At the start of the 2023 season, Pérez’s championship fire was rekindled. Verstappen struggled with the car, while Pérez felt more comfortable with the RB19.
Towards the end of 2023, the Mexican rallied after a tough period, proclaiming that 2024 would be his year.
Pérez’s 2024 F1 Quest: Beat Verstappen, Secure Red Bull Seat
To become champion this year, Pérez has one task, and a very challenging one at that: to beat Verstappen.
After an incredible year like 2023, the three-time world champion is undoubtedly eager to replicate such a season. Once Verstappen feels comfortable in the car, he often disappears into the distance, leaving everyone many seconds behind.
If Pérez is in a good mental space and doesn’t obsess over beating Verstappen, he can deliver strong performances, as shown in previous seasons.
The early phase of the 2024 season will likely be crucial for Pérez himself, and for his seat. “Pérez must perform his role, be there when Verstappen has a problem, and finish second when Verstappen wins,” recently said Renger van der Zande on Nederland Autosportland.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also spoke plainly: the fate of Pérez’s seat is in his own hands. If he can fulfill these tasks, he continues to check all the boxes on Red Bull’s list. The question, however, is: how long can he maintain this? In 2023, it only took five races before Pérez ‘broke’.
If it doesn’t happen in 2024, it probably never will
Red Bull has plenty of talent ready to take over Pérez’s job. Many speculate that Horner would like to see Daniel Ricciardo back alongside Verstappen, possibly even mid-season. Pérez reportedly has a clause in his contract preventing demotion to the sister team, meaning he would need to find a completely different deal or retire at 34.
Nearly all contracts are secured until the end of 2024, with some extending further: Verstappen remains with Red Bull until 2028, Ferrari confirmed on January 25 that Leclerc will also stay for a while, and the seats at McLaren are occupied for the foreseeable future.
In short: if Pérez doesn’t clinch the title this year, the likelihood of it ever happening seems slim. This pressure could play an additional role for the Mexican, who might feel from Bahrain that he really needs to make it work now.
Pérez’s Crucial 2024: Evolving Beyond RB19 to RB20
The 2023 season taught Pérez several lessons, and now, as Horner has said multiple times, it’s up to him to apply those lessons and ensure Red Bull has no reason to part ways with him mid-season.
The Austrian team is expected to have another dominant year, and work is underway in Milton Keynes on the evolution of the dominant RB19, the RB20. Perhaps Pérez needs to beat not only Verstappen in 2024 but also himself, to extract the maximum potential.
Pérez’s 2024 F1 Goal : Surpass Verstappen Pérez’s 2024 F1 Goal : Surpass Verstappen. sergio Pérez’s 2024 F1 Goal : Surpass Verstappen
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