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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Marko: Perez has woken up from F1 "world championship dream"

Sergio Perez has “woken up from his world championship dream” owing to recent Formula 1 qualifying struggles that have forced race comebacks, according to Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

While the Mexican has never overtaken his two-time defending champion team-mate Max Verstappen in the standings this year, he closed to six points after winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in late April.

But his form leading into the summer break has been dogged by a run of five consecutive failures to progress into Q3.

This has forced him to fight back in the races although, in the fastest car in 2023, he has not finished second to Verstappen in a full grand prix since the fifth round in Miami.

Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com's sister title Motorsport-Total.com, Marko said this rough patch had allowed Perez to wake up from his title “dream” and this realisation will now enable him to focus on raising his performance.

The Austrian also reasserted Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s assurances that Perez’s seat is not under threat as long as he sits second in the drivers’ championship.

Marko said: “We have a contract with Perez until the end of 2024. He is second in the world championship. What need do we have to take action?

“He has now woken up from his world championship dream. Maybe that will help him to focus again on delivering the best possible performance."

Marko added that Verstappen remained underrated for his intelligence and that his overall level meant it was “not possible” for Perez to ever surpass him in the championship.

"Max is underestimated,” said Marko. “He is an exceptional driver. Just looking at the mental capacities he still has. He even noticed on the radio when my mobile rang! [in FP2 during the Spanish GP].

“He has such talent, such speed. And he's on cloud nine, no one would look good next to him. Verstappen is a completely different yardstick.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“That Perez has to be within three tenths [of a second] of Max is a generous interpretation on our part. Sometimes it was more.

“Perez is second in the world championship. More is not possible for him. He is fulfilling that at the moment."

Marko reckoned that Perez’s strength had never been with his one-lap pace - something he had identified during a late-2000s, early-2010s private evaluation alongside current AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo.

He said of Perez: "He delivers very good races, he overtakes well. Only the mistakes in qualifying are there. That has always been his weakness.

“Even at our junior qualifying in Estoril [Portugal] years ago, Ricciardo and Perez were very young back then. We simulated qualifying runs and long runs.

“They were the fastest, but Perez wasn't there in qualifying."

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