Eddie Jordan is adamant that Sergio Perez is doing a solid job as Max Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull, declaring that the Formula 1 World Champion team‘s prodigal son, Daniel Ricciardo, could not match the job the Mexican is doing.
Ricciardo’s return to the Red Bull fold after four seasons of career-destroying jaunt at first Renault and then McLaren, where he was totally destroyed by Lando Norris and Zak Brown’s team, the American overplayed substantially for the Australian’s services only to pay him more to get out of the team, because he was so bad.
Three rookies found their way into F1 this year, while the availability of the experienced eight-time Grand Prix winner, and veteran, Ricciardo they ignored. From one of the most highly-rated drivers on the grid during his years with Red Bull, he turned into a driver nobody wanted in a frightfully short space of time.
Now as Red Bull reserve driver, some could argue too high-profile for comfort, he lurks in the background inevitably prompting speculation, and even a potent lobby from English media, to get big-smiling Dan back on the F1 grid, even at the expense of Perez.
The notion does not sit well with Jordan, who said in Formula For Success podcast: “I’ve gone through this on a number of occasions and I actually think, you know, Daniel Ricciardo is there, but there’s no way Daniel will do the job that Checo is doing, in my opinion.”
Jordan: Checo is doing a magic job for Red Bull
“Having seen what Daniel has done, and as much as we like the guy, he’s just a fabulous person to be around, but Checo is doing a magic job,” insisted Jordan, a former team owner turned occasional F1 pundit.
Sharing the microphone with Jordan, was 13-time Grand Prix winner David Coulthard who added: “We have a generation of drivers in their mid-20s that for the next decade are going to be trying to fight it out, and basically any one of those guys who get their hands on a race-winning car have a chance to challenge Max.
“Challenging Max in the same team is going to take a superhuman effort because Max is just a machine, isn’t he? He’s been groomed, in the nicest way of that expression, in terms of being on a racetrack from an early age. Both parents have been racers and he’s assertive, strong-willed and more than capable,” reasoned Coulthard.
History shows that, after his first win in Spain after his promotion to Red Bull a quarter-way through the 2016 F1 season, he partnered with Ricciardo who simply shied out of a fight with the most promising up-and-coming talent of this generation in one of the most successful teams of the past two decades.
Red Bull owe Perez respect for doing what no other teammate of Max could ever do
Ricciardo’s copping out is bit like F1 legend Alain Prost leaving McLaren unwilling to fight the incoming Ayrton Senna ,when the great Brazilian arrived at Woking at the behest of Ron Dennis fulfilling his dream of having the two best F1 drivers in the best team, which (believe it or not, F1 n00bs) McLaren were in the eighties and early nineties.
Meanwhile as Ricciardo looms, Red Bull owe Perez respect – not only for his substantial role in winning the double last year, his team’s first F1 constructors’ title since 2013 – but for being the only driver to come close to Verstappen. One could argue, that the much improved (since he arrived at RBR) older driver’s tenacity in Jeddah and Baku was exactly what was needed to wound the reigning World Champ.
Yes, Max pains when he loses and even more so when his teammate does the beating. Hence the beast we saw in Miami, stung by Perez the Dutchman raised his game to deliver the out-of-this-planet masterclass, which is likely to be followed by the #1 car cantering to another slew of wins until, we hope for the sake of a fight, his teammate flings him another wake-up call at some point.
For now, records show that no other F1 teammate at Red Bull has been capable of doing that to 25-year-old (!!!) Verstappen until Perez hit the top of his game this season. Ask Ricciardo, also tap up Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly (pictured above) for their thoughts; a trio of highly-rated drivers until Verstappen bossed them out of F1, or almost.