Amidst increasing speculation over his future, Helmut Marko admits that the forthcoming races in Austin and Mexico are vital.
According to social media speculation, Perez has already been given an ultimatum by Red Bull, should he fail to finish runner-up spot in the championship he is out.
This, of course, has led to further speculation that over the forthcoming Mexican Grand Prix weekend the Red Bull will announce his retirement at the end of the season.
With the RB19 undisputedly the best car on the grid, to all intents and purposes the only thing that can prevent Perez finishing second is the Mexican himself. However, coming off the back of a string of disappointing weekends this isn’t entirely impossible.
Speaking to oe24, Marko has compared Perez’s situation to that of Pierre Gasly who was dropped halfway through his maiden season with the Austrian team.
Asked about his relationship with Perez, Marko, who only last month was given a warning by the FIA over comments he had made about the driver’s ethnicity, insisted: “It’s very good.
“He gave me massive support,” he added, “as did Max, by the way, who gave a few people a piece of his mind.
“You must not forget I brought Perez into the team back then,” he said of the decision to recruit the Mexican after he was dropped by Racing Point at the end of 2020. “But that’s simply the fate with Verstappen that he’s suffering now. That was already the case with Gasly.”
Without addressing the speculation over the driver’s future, Marko admits that Perez was lucky in Qatar, where Lewis Hamilton’s first lap crash meant the Briton was unable to close the 30 point gap.
“This fear is actually very concrete,” said the Austrian. “Without the crash Hamilton would have made up 10, 15 points again.
“Checo just has to do the best he can without looking at Verstappen,” he added. “We are trying to help him do that. There is no criticism from the team, only help. Maybe it will work.”
Though Austin, like the race that follows, are considered ‘home’ races for the Mexican, who will enjoy massive support, Marko doesn’t think that this is a good thing for the driver as it only adds to the pressure.
It doesn’t make it any easier for him,” he said. “In addition, there is now a Sprint race in the USA, exactly what he doesn’t need at the moment.
“That makes it even more difficult for him because he always needs time to get up to speed. I hope that Austin will be halfway right, then it will be all right in Mexico.”