“Mentally strong” Pérez “has the ability to close the gap” to Verstappen, says Bernie Collins

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Former Aston Martin and Force India strategy engineer Bernie Collins says Sergio Pérez is one of the mentally toughest athletes in sport.

The Irish woman worked closely with the Mexican driver for six seasons at the Silverstone-based team before Checo moved on to Red Bull. Pérez secured a memorable maiden win on his penultimate start for them at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

Photo credit: Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team/Red Bull Content Pool

Pérez has lost 39 points to teammate Max Verstappen in the championship across Monaco and Spain. That leaves him trailing his Dutch stablemate by 53 points in the battle for the championship.

Speaking on the Irish podcast ‘Off The Ball’, Collins explained that the Mexican can overcome the mental setbacks of recent weeks because of how quickly he moves on from difficult situations.

“I am a bit surprised again in Spain that he didn’t bounce back stronger [Pérez could only manage P4] — maybe the circuit didn’t suit him.

“But he is one of the strongest people mentally from a sports point of view that I’ve ever worked with. You’d have a bad qualifying — we might go out in Q1 or whatever it would be — and he would be the first person in the office saying ‘right, what are we going to do about the race’.

“That was even before I had switched my mindset to the race. You were still fuming a little bit at whatever had gone on. He would very quickly change his mindset.”

Collins also gave insight on the fantastic support he gets from his family and trainers. Checo’s father Antonio Perez Garibay is a regular attendee at races.

“He has a great support network with his family behind him. They’re there at a lot of tracks. His trainers in particular do a good job as well.”

Although most people already believe the championship is done, Collins his faith in the 33-year-old that he can get himself back into it.

“He is mentally very strong. I think that’s why he’s been fit to enter that Red Bull team, build up and take it to Verstappen more than we’ve seen other compeitiors within Red Bull — and be fit to stay there.

“Year by year he’s finished better in the championship relative to Verstappen. He is very very strong.

“If anyone has the ability to close the gap again, it will be Checo.”