Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says Sergio Perez can get his season back on track now that he has “woken up from his World Championship dream”.

Two victories in the opening four races of the year saw Perez close to within only six points of Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen.   

However, his form has alarmingly slumped since then, with the Mexican only ending a wretched run of failing to reach Q3 on five consecutive occasions last weekend.

With his qualifying struggles forcing him to embark on frequent recovery drives back through the field, Perez has consequently only scooped three podiums in the past seven rounds, during which time Verstappen has claimed victory in every single race.

Perez, who failed to finish the Sprint Race on Saturday in Belgium, has dropped 118 points behind Verstappen and Marko believes the title race being effectively over should have a positive impression on his performances.

Marko has also reiterated the stance of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner that Perez’s immediate future with the reigning World Champions is not under threat.

“We have a contract with Perez until the end of 2024,” he told Motorsport-Total. “He is second in the World Championship. What need do we have to take action?

“He has now woken up from his World Championship dream. Maybe that will help him to focus again on delivering the best possible performance.”

Expanding on Perez’s recent qualifying troubles, Marko asserts that history shows the 33-year-old has never been a one-lap specialist throughout his entire racing career.

The Austrian, 80, recounts how Perez came up short versus other drivers, including ex-Red Bull and current AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo, in a test some time ago.

“He delivers very good races, he overtakes well,” Marko said regarding Perez. “Only the mistakes in qualifying are there. That has always been his weakness.

“Even at our junior qualifying in Estoril [Portugal] years ago, Ricciardo and Perez were very young back then. We simulated qualifying runs and long runs.

“They were the fastest, but Perez wasn’t there in qualifying.”

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19. 29.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Sprint Day.

Marko also believes that Perez’s inability to maintain pace with Verstappen illustrates how underrated the Dutchman remains.

“Max is underestimated,” he added. “He is an exceptional driver. Just looking at the mental capacities he still has. He even noticed on the radio when my mobile rang! [in FP2 during the Spanish GP]

“He has such talent, such speed. And he’s on cloud nine, no one would look good next to him. Verstappen is a completely different yardstick.

“That Perez has to be within three-tenths [of a second] of Max is a generous interpretation on our part. Sometimes it was more.

“Perez is second in the world championship. More is not possible for him. He is fulfilling that at the moment.”

Verstappen is aiming to score an eighth consecutive win on Sunday at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

However, he will have to make his way through from sixth on the grid, having relinquished pole position by taking a five-place grid penalty for exceeding his gearbox allocation for the season.

Therefore, Perez – who qualified third on Friday evening, 0.9s adrift of Verstappen – will start as the leading Red Bull, alongside Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the front row.

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