Perez: We will see how good Verstappen is

Force India driver Sergio Perez feels sympathy for Daniil Kvyat after he was replaced by Max Verstappen at Red Bull and demoted to Toro Rosso ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Perez suffered a similar fate at the end of 2013 when he was elbowed out at McLaren by Kevin Magnussen with short notice. He was able to rebuild his career at Force India, but said Formula One becomes a fickle business when a driver is dropped by his team.

“It was the same when McLaren dropped me, suddenly people stop believing in you,” he said. “Then you see that people in Formula One have very short memories. They won’t remember the podiums and the good results that he got or the things he did in Toro Rosso or why Red Bull chose him in the first place. They won’t remember that, they will just remember why they dropped him.

“But I believe that if he does the job and delivers results he will rebuild his reputation. And if it’s not with Red Bull, he might find an alternative. There are other teams on the grid than Red Bull, so let’s see. Anything can happen in Formula One.”

Perez said the onus is now on 18-year-old Verstappen to prove himself against three-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo.

“It could be a risk [for Verstappen], obviously Daniel is a very strong driver, a top driver and a consolidated one. He’s going against one of the best drivers on the grid, with a lot of experience, so he won’t have it easy. Only time will tell, Verstappen is obviously a very talented driver but now is a moment of truth. For the rest of the year we will see how good Verstappen is.”

“I think Kvyat definitely deserved the seat at Red Bull, at least for the rest of the year. Everyone forgets that one race before he was on the podium and that he finished ahead of Ricciardo last year. Everyone forgets about it but only time will tell if they’ve taken the right or wrong decision. I think Kvyat is a very strong driver, mentally as well, and he will overcome that impact. For a driver it is definitely an impact but I hope he does well. I think he’s jumping into a good car as well because the Toro Rosso is a very strong car and I think they will be quite strong round here.”

Perez said the key to his turnaround was not dwelling on McLaren’s decision.

“From the outside you sometimes realise it’s more difficult than when it happens. I have a philosophy of life that you just have to get on with whatever happens in life. What happened to me was quite hard but after a couple of hours when I realised there was nothing I could do other than look for other opportunities, whether in Formula One or not. This is a sport and we have given our life to it — sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you are unlucky — you just have to get on and do the best you can.”