By James Broughton, December 19, 2022
Max Verstappen has finally revealed he enjoys undisputed number 1 status at Red Bull F1. Thank’s to Verstappen’s own words, we can finally peel the onion layer by layer. The double world champion didn’t directly reference team mate Sergio Perez. But the takeaway is, if you are not fast or consistent enough then Verstappen takes priority. Indeed Verstappen used Valtteri Bottas, during his time at Mercedes, as a reference point to bolster his argument.
Verstappen pointed out how Bottas would start the first few races of a new season strongly only for his form to fade, then rise and dip for the majority of the campaign. Perez’ first season at Red Bull was a bit Bottas, however he performed much stronger in his second season. Perez showed consistency and in the first five races of the season had the speed and measure of his team mate.
As Red Bull developed the car Verstappen found the new upgrades favoured his driving style more and started to dominate his teammate. Perez’s performances compared to his teammate were in no way poor, it’s just that Verstappen naturally operates at a higher level. The upgrades allowed him to find an extra gear over Perez.
Looking in from the outside as an observer, it is difficult to say if Red Bull is built around Max Verstappen. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t. He is the talisman, he is the reference point, the escape artist. Indeed Verstappen has eaten up and spat out all his teammates, the Dutchman is a singular pronoun.
During a recent media interview, Verstappen explained his philosophy about teammates needing to get realistic when partnering with him:
”You [indirectly referring to Sergio Perez] just have to accept that the driver next to you is just a bit better. That’s fine, that can happen.”
”Some drivers can’t do that and then it goes completely wrong.”
”Then they don’t survive for very long. I’m not going to name names, but you have to accept your role. You can’t live in a fairytale world.”