Sergio Perez has claimed that his nationality has played a role in setting him up for harsher treatment from the media this season, arguing that George Russell did not face the same criticism following his crash in Singapore.
The Mexican driver has endured a disappointing 2023 campaign, winning two of the first four races to announce a title challenge against team-mate Max Verstappen but failing to record a single Grand Prix victory in the 12 rounds that have followed.
Checo’s struggles have led to plenty of media speculation regarding his long-term future with Red Bull, fuelled further by Daniel Ricciardo’s return to the grid with AlphaTauri at the Hungarian Grand Prix. With just one year left on his current deal, the 33-year-old is feeling the pressure.
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Speaking to Spanish publication Marca about his struggles, Checo said: “We saw it with Russell [in Singapore]. He crashed from third place on the last lap, but you don’t hear anyone talking about it.
“If something like that happens at Red Bull, you immediately have three hundred media channels on your roof telling you that you have to leave. This kind of thing happens often in Formula 1 and that’s how it works in a team environment. Also, I have the feeling that the fact that I am Mexican also has a big influence.”
Perez has had to deal with intense criticism for his on-track performances this season with the Mexican suffering several underwhelming results compared to his Red Bull team-mate.
Checo crashed into both Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen at the latest round of the season in Japan, culminating in an early retirement and a zero-point haul from the event. With Verstappen romping to victory at Suzuka, the gap between the pair now stands at a mammoth 177 points.
Perez’s claim about his nationality playing a role in the criticism he’s received comes after Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said that his Mexican heritage affected his focus in the cockpit, leading to widespread condemnation from the wider F1 community.
After an impressive comeback drive in Monza, Marko caveated Checo’s prior struggles by telling ServusTV: “Let’s remember that he is South American, and so he is not as focused as Max Verstappen or Sebastian Vettel was.” Perez returns to the grid this weekend at the Qatar Grand Prix where his team-mate Verstappen has the chance to wrap up his third successive Drivers’ Championship.