Ex-Formula 1 winner Felipe Massa believes Red Bull would be “wise” to keep Sergio Perez, insisting that nobody else could beat Max Verstappen in the same team.

Perez has endured a torrid campaign, scoring only two wins to Verstappen’s 17 and currently trailing his team-mate by a seismic 266 points in the Drivers’ Championship.

That has prompted repeated speculation that Perez could be moved aside, despite the Mexican retaining a contract for 2024 and Red Bull denying that he will be replaced.

But with Red Bull still wrapping up both titles with record rounds to spare this year, Massa admits he views no reason to break up the Milton-Keynes squad’s current partnership.

“As long as Max is happy and the team wins both the Drivers’ championship and the Constructors’ championship, I think it would be wise to leave things as they are now,” he told Dutch magazine Formule 1.

The Brazilian, who shared a team with three World Champions during his extensive F1 career, is also convinced that displacing Perez would impact Verstappen negatively.

“Max is visibly feeling good and wins almost every race. For him, any change would mean a deterioration,” Massa added.

Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez (MEX), Red Bull Racing 02.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Preparation Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Massa reckons that Verstappen’s success is unparalleled and even the likes of Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton would even struggle to usurp the Dutchman at Red Bull.

“What Max is showing this season is of an unprecedented level,” he claimed. “Even if you put Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso in the other car, I’m not sure much would change. Maybe a little bit, but believe me, they wouldn’t beat Max either.”

However, Massa acknowledges that the continuous intense scrutiny surrounding Perez’s future derives from the ambition for a close title fight amid Red Bull’s dominance.

“Let’s be honest – we’d all rather see the championship decided in the last lap, like in 2021 in Abu Dhabi,” he explained.

“If you reason like that, of course you wish for the best driver on the grid after Max to take Perez’s seat.”

Despite encountering a mid-season slump that comprised a run of five consecutive Q3 absences, Perez could secure second in the championship this weekend in Las Vegas.

The 33-year-old holds a 32-point advantage over Hamilton with only two rounds remaining, meaning he only needs to avoid being outscored by six points or more.

Having already wrapped up both championships, Red Bull is aiming to lock out the top two positions in the Drivers’ standings for the first time in its F1 history.

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