Sergio Perez with his five Formula One wins is now 49th in the compendium of driver wins in a grand prix event. Checo surprisingly is now level with Charles Leclerc in the order of merit for F1 wins, and many consider the Monegasque to be a much better driver.
Of course Sergio has negotiated his way into a championship winning team and will continue to pick up the pieces and race wins when his world champion team mate fails here and there.
F1 2023 needs a Red Bull battle royal
While Fernando Alonso is presently exciting the neutrals with his Mercedes and Ferrari crushing drives and podiums the hopes of the F1 audience at large rest with Checo to keep us on the edge of our seats.
So the ideal scenario is for now Max continues to encounter problems allowing Sergio to take a healthy lead in the drivers’ championship.
Hopefully we can all go into the summer break with the title far from decided and come back for the all action packed autumn schedule with something to cheer other than say… Lewis losing his shit with Alonso beating him time and again.
Can Perez win on non-street circuits?
The problem with this theory of how the 2023 season unfolds is twofold.
Firstly we assume Checo is capable of sustaining the performance level he showed last time out in Jeddah. Yet given the Mexican has now won 4 of his 5 grand prix on street circuits with the Sakhir GP in 2020 being the exception, Checo’s all round driving skills on different kind of racing circuits are in still in question.
Perez expresses his suspicion of Verstappen
Further, in each of the practice sessions together with Q1 in Jeddah, Max best time was on average close to 0.5 second quicker than Perez. So without the Q2 car failure its almost certain Verstappen would have claimed the pole position and another race win.
Red Bull will give Perez an initial fair chance at WDC
The second problem with our hopes for a season long close battle between Perez and Verstappen is the Mexican driver has never looked like a world champion in waiting.
Then there is the question as to whether the Red Bull management would even allow Perez a fair crack at winning the drivers’ title this season.
Speaking to the F1 Nation podcast, F1 champion driver Damon Hill addressed the issue of favouritism at Milton Keynes and whether the team would support a Perez run at the championship.
Hill says Checo not “ruthless” and lacks “commitment”
“I’m sure they will,” Hill replied, “but I think they would prefer Max to win.”
“And I think Max will ultimately prevail. I just don’t think Checo has the ultimate speed and ruthlessness that Max does, and the commitment to being quick.”
Hill’s opinion is a fairly damning statement not just on Chico’s ability, but his “commitment” to winning.
As Nico Rosberg will testify, to beat a multiple world champion team mate you have to be fully prepared from the outset of the season. This means having the best physical and mental preparation a being able to demonstrate on track you can win races regardless of your team mates misfortune.
Perez needs elbows out against Verstappen
Sergio just won a race when Verstappen started P15. Now he has to out muscle Max on track and take a race win from under his nose to have a hope of gaining the Red Bull team managements support.
In Jeddah Perez had a chance to push hard to claim the quickest lap extra point over his last lap of the race, yet he chose to accept the team’s advice and just bring the car home. Meanwhile Max was pushing hard and stole the fastest lap prize from his team mate at the death of the Grand Prix.
He has to demonstrate he has the “commitment to being quick” or as Ted Kravitz suggests prove he “he can make it competitive” otherwise Red Bull will throw their weight “ultimately behind Max Verstappen” Kravitz adds.
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People are often critical of what @LewisHamilton does and says, but ignore how toxic the Verstappen's are. Perez drove great, and so did Max, but Jos Verstappen here, shows how entitled he think he is. Actions speak louder than words. #F1 #SkyF1 #SaudiArabianGP @RobLMyers https://t.co/gB2CGsTUuh
— Wilson (@cgiwilly) March 20, 2023