Former F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg has urged Sergio Perez to tune out criticism and focus solely on driving as he seeks to recapture his early-season form.
Perez won two of the first four Grands Prix of 2023, prompting suggestions that the Mexican may be able to challenge Max Verstappen for the championship.
However, the Mexican then endured a self-confessed rough patch of form between the Miami Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix, which has left him 125 points behind his two-time champion teammate at F1’s mid-season break.
Perez’s tough spell included five races in a row without a Q3 appearance, while Daniel Ricciardo’s return to the grid with AlphaTauri has added to the speculation over the Mexican’s future at Red Bull.
“I would recommend Sergio switch off all the media and everything, not look at social media, because he’s going to be seeing so many memes going against him, comments going against him, journalists giving questions that are going against them, so you really need to separate yourself from that,” Rosberg told the Sky Sports F1 Podcast.
“I switched off my entire social media, email and the news world completely when I was fighting for the championship.
“The only problem is that he still has to go to the racetrack and sit in front of 50 journalists, and they’re going to ask him, ‘Hey, Sergio, you’re looking like you’re having the biggest struggle in your career. Do you think you’re ever going to get out of this again?’
“That always hits you, because you have to listen, you can’t ignore, you have to answer the questions.
“The next question is going to be, ‘Hey, Sergio. Do you feel a threat from Daniel Ricciardo, do you feel that you might lose your seat?’ It just goes on and on like that, and it’s so hard because it just keeps on hitting you.
“That’s one of the hardest parts of the weekend for Sergio at the moment to deal with, and so it’s about switching off, focusing.”
One session at a time
Rosberg added that Perez would be better served focusing on his own performances, rather than making public pronouncements about his desire to beat Verstappen and win the title.
“[Perez] was very focused on [saying] ‘I want to beat Max, I want to be champion,’ always saying that in the winter.
“It’s time to just forget about that, and race weekend by race weekend, session by session, do a fantastic job.
“Prepare for it as best you can, risk manage out there, and just do a fantastic job and rebuild like that. That’s what it’s about, that’s what he needs to try to do.”