Helmut Marko, racing consultant for Red Bull, says that Sergio Perez is the ideal teammate for Max Verstappen.
As a result of Daniel Ricciardo's decision to depart the team at the end of 2018, Red Bull underwent a succession of replacements. Pierre Gasly was released after six months, and his replacement, Alexander Albon, was dismissed at the conclusion of the next season.
Recently, Perez inked a two-year contract extension that would keep him with Red Bull until at least the end of 2024. Marko feels he is the ideal teammate for Verstappen since he does not engage in on-track scuffles with him but is still capable of winning races on his own.
“Max can drive any car fast,” said Marko in an interview for Red Bulletin. “That’s why having Sergio Pérez as his teammate is perfect.
“Checo doesn’t try to fight but does everything he can, and that can lead to victory as it did in Baku last season. The two work very well together.”
Perez was instructed to allow Verstappen to pass him twice at the Spanish Grand Prix. When Verstappen caught him at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, he was likewise told not to fight his teammate. Verstappen defeated Perez in both races.
Former Red Bull Junior Team member Carlos Sainz Jr. served as Verstappen's first Formula 1 teammate. He was never promoted from Toro Rosso's junior team to Red Bull, unlike Verstappen, and finally quit the company.
“There was an outcry because some felt Carlos had been overlooked,” Marko acknowledged. “His development was also very good, and the difference between the two was often very minimal.
“But despite having less experience, Max was the faster driver, hence our decision to move him to Red Bull Racing. Carlos was simply unlucky enough to have Max as a team mate.”
In 2015, Red Bull recruited Verstappen when he was competing in Formula 3. Marko said that his father, the former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen, was instrumental in shaping him into a competitive opponent.
“He had a very good – but also very tough – upbringing from his father,” said Marko. “That’s what shaped him.”
“In Italy, you can practice karting all year round, and as soon as it starts raining, everyone heads to the cafeteria,” Marko added. “Max was the only one who had to stay outside and keep practising.”
Marko argues that his early elevation to F1 after just one season in F3 prompted an unneeded, knee-jerk regulation change. "After Max competed in his first F1 race at the age of 17, they included a condition requiring drivers to be at least 18 years old," he explained. "I believe the age limit is incorrect. If you have the necessary skills and training, you may accomplish it as early as 16."
“In terms of character, commitment, self-confidence and charisma, I’d compare him to Ayrton Senna,” Marko added.