Opinion: Are Red Bull heading into a situation similar to Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg?

There could be a similar situation brewing over at Red Bull, especially after Perez won the Saudi Arabian GP on Sunday and coming within just a point of Verstappen.

Sergio Perez in a file photo (image: twitter)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Mar 21, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Red Bull Racing, today, is undoubtedly the most dominant constructor in Formula One. Ever since Max Verstappen pipped the drivers’ world championship off Lewis Hamilton in 2021, the team has been an absolute beast. With both cars performing season after season, they are looking set to create a legacy that can rival what Mercedes did with Hamilton and Ferrari with Michael Schumacher. Ahead of the 2023 season, fans expected Red Bull to perform, to fight for wins and podiums, and to be the most successful team on the grid. Perhaps no one saw this kind of dominance coming. The team secured consecutive 1-2 finishes in the first two races of the season and there are absolutely no signs of stopping. Unless, however, this time, Sergio Perez actually decides to give his teammate a run for his money.

Team principal Christian Horner has always been adamant that for a team to be successful, both cars need to perform on a high level and for years, he had not had that. While Verstappen was the one constant since 2016, there was no one stable enough to hold on to that second seat for an extended period of time. Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon, all tried but failed to make a serious impact at the constructor. Finally, Horner has someone who is skillful, consistent, professional, and worthy of the seat in Checo Perez.

Horner finally has two high-performing drivers

However, there’s a saying that goes, “Be careful what you wish for.” 2016 was the year when Verstappen joined Red Bull, so he will be more than aware of what happened between Lewis and then teammate Nico Rosberg at Mercedes that year. Simply put, Rosberg stopped playing the team game and put himself first. After a year of enthralling battles against his teammate, the German won his first and only world championship title and while that would be cause for celebration for the silver arrows, things were far from okay in the paddock. Mercedes always pushed Hamilton as their main driver, and so when Rosberg stopped playing along, things got bad with the now seven-time world champion.

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Checo is Max’s sole challenger

There could be a similar situation brewing over at Red Bull, especially after Perez won the Saudi Arabian GP on Sunday and coming within just a point of Verstappen. The Mexican seems like the only one who can challenge Verstappen for the title and given that there were tensions between the two last season, it would not come as a surprise if Checo dropped the teammate act and actually went for the glory. Given Verstappen’s short fuse, it would completely drive him over the edge and it could lead to a massive crisis in the Red Bull paddock, and that is something Horner would least want.

If something that like were to happen, Perez would, in all probability, lose his seat at the Milton-Keynes based team. Horner has always pushed Verstappen as their number one driver, as he should, and so if Checo does decide to go with his heart, instead of following team orders, he could be left without a seat for 2024. The upside? Perez would become a Formula One world champion, a title and a crown that would make him the most sought after driver in the entirety of motorsport, if he lost his seat.