Ross Brawn is the first Formula 1 ‘big name’ on record to call for Red Bull to ditch Sergio Perez for a driver more capable of challenging the dominance of Max Verstappen, citing the Lewis Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg feud at Mercedes as an example of how exciting it could be if they were more equal.
Perez is drinking from a poisoned chalice so to speak, with the best F1 car in history in his hands he is being significantly shown up by Verstappen, as the Dutchman’s 17 victories this season, compare the Mexican’s two wins.
Verstappen wrapped up the 2023 F1 WDC long ago, while Perez is labouring to make it a one-two in the standings which would be a first for Red Bull and, some believe, a reprieve from Checo being sent packing or demoted to AlphaTauri at the end of 2023, a year before his contract is up for renewal.
Brawn knows a thing or three about winning F1 world titles and, more importantly, sustaining the momentum and turning it into dominance. As we saw over the years McLaren were the Kings of F1, then Williams, then Ferrari, then Red Bull, and most recently Mercedes – all eras of domination in F1 come to an end even though, when in them, they seem endless to the sport’s followers.
Ross: We think of Rosberg and Hamilton… that was a great year
In an interview with TalkSport, Brawn argues that Red Bull needs a better driver to push Verstappen, and keep to their winning ways: “What I want to see quite frankly is someone more competitive in the other car because unfortunately, Sergio’s not putting up much competition for Max.”
Brawn adds that even if there is a dominant car like the RBR is right now, it can still be exciting if the two drivers are more level: “And even when you get a dominant car, if you can get someone in the other car who’s giving them a hard time. We think of Rosberg and Hamilton, that was a great year and a year when Mercedes were dominating.”
As for Red Bull’s immense 2023 F1 season, Brawn said: “Even though they have this domination at the moment, you will see it [close up] in time. “And we’re seeing little indications. McLaren, with [Lando] Norris and occasionally [Oscar] Piastri, they’re knocking at the door, keeping them honest, let’s put it that way.
“I think over this winter, I’m optimistic that there will be a reset. When you’re at the front, you have the advantage of being able to start the design of your new car earlier and that’s when that domination can sometimes run for several years,” reckoned Brawn.
The 2023 F1 standings, ahead of Round 21 – the penultimate one in Las Vegas coming up – Verstappen has 524 points on the board, with Perez in P2 on 258, chased by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton on 226.
This means that Verstappen’s score alone was enough to win the 2023 F1 WCC title, in P2 Mercedes have 382 points. Perez’s points were not needed this time, but what happens when they are and he is not delivering? Brawn makes a point that is hard to argue with.