(L to R): Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Verstappen is the toughest team mate but I have the speed to beat him – Perez

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez still believes in his chances of winning the world championship this year despite falling 39 points behind his team mate after the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver suffered a tough weekend in Monaco after crashing in the first phase of qualifying which left him last on the grid. Perez explained why he spun into the barrier at Sainte Devote and and said he took full responsibility for it.

“I should have taken things a bit easier,” he said. “Everything was too late, it was a combination of things.

“We decided last-minute to go for that lap and then we had the Alpine just in front of us. We had a lot of tailwind basically going on the braking.

“So in hindsight just being next time in Monaco in Q1 probably not taking those decisions last minute will help us as well. But on top of all, I should have done a better job at pre-empting the situation.”

“It’s hard,” he added. “But for me the most important of these things is to accept when you do a mistake as a driver, put your hand up, apologise to your team first of all and then learn from it and understand what happened. And I’ve done that.”

His team mate Max Verstappen took pole position and won the race. The Red Bull duo have swept to victory in all six grands prix so far this year, Verstappen taking four to Perez’s two.

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However Perez remains convinced he can beat his team mate to the championship. “Yes, because the speed is there,” he said. “For example, even if this crash [didn’t] happen and I was half a second, a second off, then I would be more concerned.

“But the positive thing is that we have the speed to be able to swing around things. But for now I mainly focus on weekend by weekend. I want to win this weekend and get victories on my side.”

This is Perez’s third season at Red Bull, during which time Verstappen has won two world championships. Perez says he is in better shape to take the fight to his team mate this year.

“I’ve been a match to Max since since the beginning of the season, in one way or another, sometimes better, sometimes worse. And it’s what I believe that you have to be.

“I think being team mates with Max, it’s probably the toughest thing you can have because it’s a driver that is on most form of all. But I do believe that it’s possible to beat him.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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30 comments on “Verstappen is the toughest team mate but I have the speed to beat him – Perez”

  1. Blaming the Alpine even slightly is pointless because he gave Checo more than enough space for an undistracted braking & corner entry. Nevertheless, I doubt he’d have the speed to outscore over a season.
    Max will likely only increase his points advantage as the season progresses, with the mathematical clinching happening, I predict, at COTA or thereabouts.

    1. I take it more as listing things that added to him not feeling completely comfortable on track at that moment rather than putting “blame” on anything but their own hasted decision-making there @jerejj.

      With regards to the fight to try and beat Max to the championship, yeah, a steep hill to climb, however I would really like to see Perez keeping up the fighting spirit and giving it as much as he can, since he should have the best chance to actually do that in the field. Realistically we all expect Max to gradually widen the gap, as you mention.

      1. @bascb I see what you mean & a valid point, but sometimes drivers seemingly use others as an excuse no matter how much they give space or how well they do to avoid impeding, etc., occasionally even when quite far ahead on the road.

  2. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    1st June 2023, 18:33

    Verstappen is the toughest team mate but I have the speed to beat him

    The first half is hard to argue with. As for the second part …

    I like Pérez. I understand that he has to talk himself up in order to stay motivated. And if he were to pull a Rosberg and steal a WDC from his teammate, I’d be very happy for him. But the reality is, he’s no Rosberg, and Verstappen is at least as good as Hamilton, if not better. The only way Pérez stands even half a chance is if Verstappen has A LOT of DNF’s in the coming races, which – given his and Red Bull’s recent form – is about as likely as de Vries growing literal wings.

    1. Mostly agree, would just add re: ‘But the reality is, he’s no Rosberg, and Verstappen is at least as good as Hamilton, if not better.’

      That year was one of (if not the) weakest season for Hamilton, with maybe only 2011 in contention. I don’t see Verstappen losing focus/motivation anytime soon like Hamilton kinda did in 2016.

      1. Yes, I think verstappen is usually more consistently on top form (in terms of performance) than hamilton, take even 2017 for example, hamilton had some off races that ended up with bottas fighting\beating vettel and hamilton lagging behind, verstappen usually doesn’t have such weekends, that’s why I said I didn’t find hamilton super consistent sometime ago, though he also had better seasons that way like 2018.

      2. It was in part a weak season for Hamilton because Rosberg managed to get under his skin and rattle him several times David. As @esploratore1 mentions, Verstappen seems to be far less prone to rethinking himself or even bothered about it, although a few things last year (the supposed acrimony between him and Perez over Monaco 2022), hint that maybe he is just better at keeping it under wraps.

  3. Neil (@neilosjames)
    1st June 2023, 19:09

    A driver like Perez can beat a driver like Verstappen every now and then, but an appropriate (recent) historical comparison would be that he’s a Barrichello to Verstappen’s Schumacher. Generally solid, occasionally dials it in beautifully and hits his ceiling, but usually comes up short simply because he isn’t as good as his team-mate.

    1. I more see him as Coulthard to Hakkinen. Barrichello – unless my memory fails me – was never able to win the quali on his own accord and then follow up with a commanding race win, sth that Perez managed to do twice or thrice.

      1. Barrichello – unless my memory fails me – was never able to win the quali on his own accord and then follow up with a commanding race win

        That’s not really the case, the first time he took pole and the win was in Hungary 2002, and while it was pretty obvious Schumacher just followed him around (finishing less than half a second behind), Barrichello did it again in England 2003, a rather chaotic race that he handled expertly. He also took a very important pole in Japan 2003, and then led the race and denied Räikkönen the win. As it turned out, Schumacher took the one point he needed to clinch the title after a rather bad race, but Barrichello made it mathematically impossible for Räikkönen to win by, well, winning. Barrichello won from pole again in Monza in 2004, which was a bit of a chaotic race in that both Ferrari’s had to stop really early for new tyres. Maybe Schumacher didn’t exactly go all in, but still. And Barrichello also took pole and the win in China that year.

        1. Yes, I remember some of these races, indeed occasionally barrichello beat schumacher on some race, but couldn’t compete when it comes to being consistently fast, I think the comparison is appropriate with perez now.

          Also I miss those times in f1, 2003 was a very interesting season and back in those era we had proper wet races.

      2. Jonathan Parkin
        1st June 2023, 20:12

        Possibly because the one time Barrichello dominated practice, qualifying and a race he wasn’t allowed to win. He had to give it to Schumacher ‘for the championship’ which was won in France.

        The stink from that race is still smelly to me 21 years later. Ferrari are lucky Barrichello didn’t just park it that day, sacrificing a podium spot and 6 points

        1. He did have to give up the win in Austria 2002, because going into that race Barrichello had all of 6 (!) points while Schumacher had 44 and was leading Montoya with 23. Todt made the right decision; his job was to win championships, and after losing the title in 1997, 1998 and 1999 in the final race he wasn’t going to leave any points on the table.

          If only Arrivabene had been as forceful, rather than letting Räikkönen mess with Vettel’s races in 2018 on multiple occasions.

          1. Jonathan Parkin
            2nd June 2023, 5:11

            If I recall the reason why he only had six points were largely because the car let him down. He would DNS twice that year, the second in France, the same race Michael would win his 5th championship. He actually stormed out of the circuit that day and it showed great character to come back again to celebrate with the team.

            And they didn’t seem to mind Rubens winning the European GP later in the year

      3. Perez was never able to win the quali on his own accord and then follow up with a commanding race win. The closest he was to that was in Baku 2023 when he qualified behind Max but managed to win the race with some small help from a Safety car.
        His other wins at Red Bull:
        2021 Baku – Perez qualified 7th and Max had a tyre blowout
        2022 Monaco – Perez binned it in qualy in a very suspicious way when Max was on a fast lap. Very luck to win starting from 3rd
        2022 Sinagpore – RB underfueled Max’s car and had to abort a qualy lap that was 1 sec faster than the next driver
        2023 Jeddah – Max started 15th because of a mechanical failure in qualy

        As you can see the closest Perez was to that performance was in Baku 2023.

        1. I don’t think monaco 2022 is suspicious, you don’t just put it in the wall to defend 3rd place, even perez would’ve assumed ferrari had a 1-2 in the pocket, he couldn’t imagine they’d be able to lose the race with both cars.

        2. Agree with the whole point about perez not having a win against verstappen in same conditions yet.

    2. He is a bit like Bottas, trying to find 2.0 that is also not good enough. Not like Rosberg.

  4. No story about the stunned reactions the teams had when they got high res images of the bottom of the RBR’s floor and were blown away by its complexity?

  5. I wonder if Sergio is having bad weekends because he’s having to push beyond his ability to keep up with Max. He has the talent to beat Max on occassions but not over a season – not without significant luck. I feel like accepting this would let him chill, get into his groove and be more consistent which is one of his biggest strengths.

  6. Bottas 6.3.1.-patch

  7. isthatglock21
    1st June 2023, 23:24

    Couldn’t even beat a rookie Ocon. Can’t compare to Bottas who could out qualify Lewis & beat him now & then fairly, albeit Merc always had the most equal cars any driver could hop into with little matching to extreme driving styles. He’s just a stable hand after the turmoil constant implosion of the highly praised RB junior gateway of drivers

  8. I like the positivity Checo, but you are going to learn the lesson that Bottas, Webber, Barrichello, Coulthard, Berger, Patrese and countless others learned before you: Great drivers make good drivers look ordinary.

    1. Yes, and generally what perez, barrichello etc. can do only a handful of races per year, the top drivers can do that all season long, with some exceptions.

      1. BW (@deliberator)
        2nd June 2023, 9:51

        Indeed. And what is more so, is that when the top drivers have an “bad” weekend, they still tend to be close to the front and maximise the points haul. When a Perez/Barrichello/Bottas/etc has a bad weekend, they are lost without trace.

  9. BW (@deliberator)
    2nd June 2023, 10:09

    Perez genuinely needs to focus his attention on taking 2nd place in the driver’s championship. The more he kids himself into believing he can challenge Verstappen, the more likely he is to have weekends like Monaco. Meanwhile Alonso is poised to take 2nd place from him and is a serious threat.
    I think if Perez finishes lower than 2nd in the driver’s championship, his career will be effectively over.

    1. And should be given the car he has. 2nd or out seems fair.

  10. No, he doesnt and never will.

  11. Perez has the speed to sometimes match VER on street circuits only, he’ll never be able to challenge on a proper track like Spa, Silverstone or Suzuka. We’ve seen last year’s Belgian GP how that went, Max started 15 and in 12 laps was passing Perez for 1st. Sure, new engine vs older one, but still.

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