Max claims No.2 drivers should 'accept their role' as Perez told he's 'no Verstappen'

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Max Verstappen claims No.2 drivers should "accept their role" in a possible hint to Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

The two drivers had a fraught end to the 2022 season after the Dutchman ignored a team order to let Perez through on the final lap in Brazil as he battled Charles Leclerc for second in the Drivers' Championship.

Ultimately, the Mexican would finish third to the Monegasque, denying Red Bull their first-ever one-two in the standings.

But asked about the situation faced by designated or assumed No.2 drivers in a team, Verstappen cited the example of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes to suggest acknowledging their place benefits their career.

“Every year he started fresh,” he said of the Finn, who partnered with Lewis Hamilton between 2017-2021. “But after a few races, you realise it’s not going to happen again and you accept your role.


“He still finished on podiums, he won a few races and took pole positions, but you just have to accept that the driver next to you is just a bit better. That’s fine, that can happen.

“It’s important that he accepted it. 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.”

The comments appear to be a thinly veiled dig at Perez, who started last year on a similar pace to Verstappen before the Dutchman began pulling ahead from the Canadian GP.

At the time, Checo claimed Red Bull's development path wasn't in his favour, but advisor Helmut Marko firmly put Perez in his place.

"Our car was 20 kilograms overweight at the beginning [of 2022]," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

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"That was a reserve that brought a reliable time gain on the race track as soon as we could reduce the weight. Every kilogram less is a certain time gain in practice.

“This has also changed the driving behaviour in such a way that Verstappen can use it optimally, and if Max can drive at the limit and has confidence, then that’s something different than if someone else drives at the limit.

"Our car was where Perez is. And Perez is a very good Formula 1 driver, but he is no Verstappen.”

And while Red Bull refuses to officially acknowledge Sergio is a No.2, at least in Marko's mind, no one can stand up to the current two-time world champion.

“Checo can certainly win a race or two,” he told Sport Bild. “But at the moment I do not see that he can challenge Max for a whole season.

“In general, I don’t see that anyone with the same prerequisites can currently do this.”


As for the relationship between Verstappen and Perez entering 2023, Red Bull boss Christian Horner is confident there are no lingering tensions.

"The drivers had a good conversation after the race in Brazil, the air was absolutely clear, you could see that by the time they’d arrived in Abu Dhabi, and I think this has been a phenomenal pairing for Red Bull," he said via SpeedCafe.

“The success that they’ve achieved over the last couple of seasons, their joint performance achieving our first Constructors’ World Championship this year, the first in nine years, has been a remarkable performance by both of them and I’m sure moving forward, they’re going to be delivering as they have done the last couple of seasons.”