There is little doubt that Red Bull has the strongest car in the sport currently. However, while Max Verstappen has been soaring and already has five race wins in the first seven Grand Prix events, his teammate Sergio Perez has confused fans and experts over why he is unable to get similar returns from his car.
While Perez showed some fight earlier in the season, he seems to have faded away somewhat in recent weeks and despite Red Bull’s claims that both drivers have the same tools at their disposal, the Mexican driver finished well behind his counterpart during the Spanish Grand Prix.
Some believe in a conspiracy theory that Verstappen is given a better car than Perez, but the team has never accepted such a claim, consistently insisting that both drivers have an equal chance of succeeding in their cars.
Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan has discussed Perez’ problems in further detail, elaborating why Checo is having to experiment a lot more than he is used to, thereby hindering his consistency and confidence.
“As a team, we offer our unconditional support to Checo,” Monaghan told Motorsport.
“The cars are the same, whatever you need, we’ll do everything we can to support and accompany you.”
Monaghan explained how Perez has been required to change his driving style to adapt to the RB19, which was developed keeping Verstappen in mind.
It makes it all the more obvious why Max is so far ahead of his teammate. It is not purely based on driving skill, rather it is the comfort that a driver individually has in the car they are seated in.
“He’s trying to get the best lap time he can,” Monaghan said.
“And if there are techniques he can deploy that will make him go faster, that would be foolish not to try.”
Red Bull uses the guise of giving both drivers an equal opportunity without any clear No. 1 driver preference, but it is apparent that the team views Perez more as a wingman than genuine competition to Verstappen.
It is true that Red Bull team principal has urged Perez to fight for the world championship, but it has now become even more evident that everything at the team is conditioned to Verstappen’s liking.
His teammates are left with just three options: adapt and take Max on in a car he is more comfortable in, be prepared to play the role of wingman, or be prepared to bite the dust.