Formula 1

Sergio Perez needs “software update” to stay in front of Daniel Ricciardo, says David Coulthard

Red Bull, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, David Coulthard

Former driver turned commentator David Coulthard has warned Sergio Perez that he needs a “software update” to keep up with Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull.
Perez is under contract alongside two-time World Champion Max Verstappen, with Ricciardo taking on a reserve role at his former team after being forced out of his seat at McLaren by fellow Australian Oscar Piastri, but with only two wins last year, Perez is in the hot seat heading into 2023.
The Mexican won in Monaco and Singapore, but finished second in the World Drivers’ Championship to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc last year after Verstappen (who had already won the World Championship) refused to let him through at the penultimate race of the year in Sao Paulo. The man dubbed the “perfect teammate” for his selflessness and defense in the famous final race of the 2021 season would normally be safe, with his contract set to expire in 2024, but with growing tensions between him and Verstappen as Red Bull’s golden child, Perez could find himself watching from the pit wall.
After the incident in Brazil, where Verstappen cryptically stated on team radio that he “had (his) reasons” for not allowing Perez through, relations between the two became strained. Perez said at the time that it demonstrated “who he (Verstappen) really is.”
During the saga, Verstappen’s mother, Sophie Kumpen, accused Perez of being unfaithful to his partner in a quickly deleted Instagram comment, referring to videos that surfaced after the 32-year-old’s victory in Monaco and showed him dancing with multiple women who were not his wife.
With Red Bull’s prior history of changing team makeup on a whim, Coulthard says Perez’s F1 destiny is “in his own hands”.

“He has access to the world champion’s data.

“If he does, then he has a chance to win the world championship.”
If he doesn’t, he’ll just be another driver who won a few races.”
Red Bull has a history of swapping teammates around their two-team setup; Verstappen joined the team from junior team Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in 2016 before the Spanish Grand Prix, replacing Russian Daniil Kvyat. Ricciardo left the Milton Keynes team in 2019, and Verstappen’s teammates kept changing – Frenchman Pierre Gasly was promoted from Toro Rosso, only to be demoted before the season’s end in favor of Thai driver Alexander Albon, who himself was demoted at the end of 2020 for Sergio Perez.
Ricciardo’s decision to join Red Bull as a reserve after turning down race seat offers from smaller teams Williams and Haas has been widely panned by the F1 paddock. “I’d argue he stands to gain nothing,” said journalist Will Buxton. Jenson Button, a former World Champion, also criticized the move, saying he was taking a huge risk with a “team where he thinks he can get a seat for 2024, otherwise it’s game over because you get forgotten after a year in F1.”
Despite Ricciardo’s projected A$36 million in earnings next year from his McLaren contract and Red Bull deal, his manager insists that “none of this is about ego or unattainable demands.”
“This is the story of a man who was dealt a bad hand and is now looking for the right next opportunity.”