Despite finishing a long way off the top spot this year, Sergio Perez has set his sights on going one better than his championship runner-up spot next year.
“I’m aware of the challenge that it is. We’ve got to really take this winter time to try to start the season on a high and be able to maintain that level of consistency throughout the season.”
Perez made the strongest start to a season in his 13-year Formula 1 career this year, finishing second at Bahrain International Circuit and winning from pole position in Jeddah. The last time he scored more than 12 points in the opening two races was in 2012 while driving for Sauber, when he finished eighth in Melbourne and second at Sepang.
He also had his strongest end to a season last year with third place in Las Vegas followed by fourth at Yas Marina last month. But over 22 grands prix and six sprint races he scored 20 fewer points than in 2022, when there were only three sprint races and he came third in the standings.
A title challenge from Perez would have to avoid the significant mid-season dip in competitivity he suffered this year as he struggled at times with his usually dominant Red Bull RB19 car.
“I think it’s about the car, how I was making use of it and how I can make better use of it through the weekend, through different circuits,” Perez reflected. “And in all of that I think I made a lot of progress, together with my engineer, in understanding how to maximise the performance of the car.
Perez said he has paid attention to Max Verstappen’s performances this year as his team mate won the world championship for the third year in a row and believes he can use that to perform better next year.
“Our relationship is really good,” said Perez. “I think the whole engineering, when we are in all those briefings through so many races, I think it’s been good. We’ve been pushing at times in different directions, but at the same time we’ve [often] been strongly asking for the same stuff. So that also has been positive for the team.”
“Definitely there are things that you learn from him,” Perez added. “I think I have the best reference out there because he was the one who was so competitive.
“So I think there’s no harm in looking at what he’s doing, how he’s doing it and trying to learn and improve, see what works for you that he’s doing differently to you. I think I’ve always had a very open approach and I think it’s something that works well.”
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
- How to watch the Bahrain Grand Prix plus F2, F3 and WEC season-openers
- Hamilton: Joining Ferrari is a “gut” decision but “I’ll always be a Mercedes fan”
- Pressure on Red Bull as team begins title defence: Six Bahrain GP talking points
- Antonelli’s first F2 races key to chance of replacing Hamilton
- McLaren starting season with “much better car” than recent years – Norris