5 Formula 1

Sergio Perez (right) wants to challenge Max Verstappen for the world title. © ANSA / ALI HAIDER

“I have 3 children at home...”: Perez declares war

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen really tried to take any heat out of the explosive Red Bull duel for the Formula 1 title.

“I have three children at home and I wouldn't travel the world if I didn't believe I could become world champion. That's what I'm working towards," he said after his victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on Sunday. "The fight between the two bulls is going to be really hot," was the verdict Journal of Sport on Monday. The champion is only six points ahead of the challenger, who clearly stated his goal: “Of course I want to win the title – but Max wants that too.”

And Verstappen in particular is known for not making compromises. The 25-year-old sees himself as the clear number one. It seems difficult to imagine that he would let Perez stop him. “Checo has shown really strong performances so far, he feels good and self-confident in the car,” Verstappen praised his teammate: “You have to recognize and appreciate what he does.” But it is also Verstappen who made such sentences just a few weeks ago put it: “I’m not here to come second.”

“I have three children at home and I wouldn’t travel the world if I didn’t believe I could become world champion.” Sergio Perez

Even though both presented a harmonious picture on the Caspian Sea, there is a lot of potential in the title fight. Verstappen has ignored the team's instructions in the past. However, in Baku he had a bit of bad luck due to changing tires too early and lost the top position through no fault of his own. Perez took advantage of this coldly, showed no mistakes and raced to his second victory in the fourth race. The Mexican was “the king of the street circuits,” he said The Team. Verstappen won the other two grand prizes. If Perez hadn't had technical problems in Australia, he might even be ahead.

Competition without a chance

“We're going to fight each other as hard as we possibly can, but I think with a high level of respect,” Perez said. Their cars are well ahead of the competition, and early in the 23-race season everything suggests that no one else is entering the championship fight. “We have done everything, tried everything, but the truth is: we are not fast enough. We just don’t have enough power,” said Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who finished third.

Charles Leclerc had no chance in the Ferrari against the Red Bulls. © APA/afp / NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA

Verstappen knows that he and Perez have “the fastest car”, but also noted: “It’s about consistency, because it’s still a very long season with many different tracks.” Things will continue in Miami on Sunday, even then The Red Bulls will dominate the action. “I don’t think anything will change,” Perez replied when asked whether he expected tensions in the relationship between the pilots.

Both were able to travel freely in Baku. Motorsport consultant Helmut Marko revealed that Perez asked on the radio shortly before the end whether he should slow down. Why? So that Verstappen can just pass by. But there are no stable orders (yet) as has happened in the past. But the scene shows what Perez is afraid of.
Defending champion Verstappen wants to win World Cup number three with performance on the track. But how much risk will Red Bull take? When does intervention need to be made? “No risk, no fun,” Marko said with a laugh Sky. Early in the year he sees no need for action. But if the World Cup leaders overdo it and collide, that is likely to change quickly.

Like Vettel and Webber?

The team has experience with such situations. Sebastian Vettel and the Australian Mark Webber gave each other nothing on and off the track, the negative highlight being an accident in Istanbul in 2010. Webber was blamed for this, Vettel emerged victorious from the situation and went on to become four-time world champion.

Red Bull and team boss Christian Horner didn't really handle the power struggle in their own garage with any confidence at the time. It will be exciting to see how the rivalry between Verstappen and Perez develops if things stay this close. Both are not considered best friends, but neither are they considered enemies. “Sergio Perez will not get involved in any issue where he has to support Verstappen in the future. I’m sure of that,” former Formula 1 driver Timo Glock recently wrote in his Sky-Column.

Perez and Verstappen still get along well – at least on the outside. © APA/afp / GIUSEPPE CACACE

Perez no longer wants to be a helper, no longer wants to be number two. “The goal is definitely” to become champion, he emphasized again. In Azerbaijan he showed brilliantly how to defeat Verstappen. “It was very close between us, we pushed to the maximum,” said the six-time Grand Prix winner and admitted: “It was really hard, but I was able to keep him under control.” And we couldn’t do that recently many.


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