’Intelligent’ Perez should quit Red Bull - Berger
"He will find another team where he can break the deadlock"
F1 legend and long-time Red Bull ally Gerhard Berger thinks Sergio Perez should consider a change of teams.
Although Mexican Perez, 33, is already under contract for 2024, his form has slumped in recent months and there have been rumblings about Red Bull wanting to slip out of the deal.
Berger, once a co-owner of Red Bull’s second Formula 1 team and one of the energy drink company’s first sponsored athletes, admits Perez’s predicament is also F1’s predicament - the utter dominance of Max Verstappen.
"If there was a real rival for Max, the gap he has might be a little smaller. But it’s still Max and the car making the difference," he told Speed Week.
"Verstappen is simply in a class of its own. The lead is so glaring that others only come closer on a day when they themselves get a bullseye on the setup and Red Bull is not ideally positioned for once.
"But even then, Max is still pulling it out of the bag."
Berger therefore points the finger at the weakness of Red Bull’s traditional top team rivals including Mercedes and Ferrari.
"McLaren is currently the second force," he said. "The development of that car is really taking effect now.
"Mercedes is also not as bad as they looked at Zandvoort because of the strategy. But you also have to recognise the performance of the drivers.
"The young (Lando) Norris and (Oscar) Piastri at McLaren are top people," added Berger.
He also commented on the flagging form of Ferrari, who Berger raced for over two stints in the 80s and 90s.
"You have to be fair, because it’s difficult to judge what is happening from the outside," said the 64-year-old. "But I do think Ferrari was technically better off last year compared to 2023.
"It’s unfortunate that they didn’t try to keep Mattia Binotto, perhaps as technical director, with Fred Vasseur just given the sporting leadership."
As for Perez, Berger - whose daughter Heidi is currently dating 2024 contender Daniel Ricciardo - also has some advice.
"With Perez it’s not a mental problem or anything like that. He’s a normal driver, a good driver, with a teammate who is an exceptional talent.
"If Sergio is intelligent, he will find himself another team where he can break the deadlock and show his performance there. But he will never be able to consistently beat Max," said Berger.
He thinks Verstappen is even at the level of his own former teammate at McLaren - Ayrton Senna.
"That’s why nobody will be able to get ahead of Max at the moment," said Berger. "Talent like that comes along maybe every 30 years.
"The boys who are catching my eye are Piastri, Norris and (George) Russell too."
He also mentions the impressive Alex Albon, as well as the injuured Ricciardo’s rookie substitute at Alpha Tauri - Liam Lawson.
"I am pleased that it has been shown that you can also move up to Formula 1 via the DTM," said Berger.
"Alex is doing a great job at Williams. Liam Lawson has now had his first chance at Alpha Tauri, but he was thrown into the deep end of course.
"He ended up right in the middle of the race with a strategy that wasn’t quite right. He deserves a real chance now."