Sergio Perez insists he can maintain his form to take the title fight to Max Verstappen beyond this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.
Red Bull has dominated 2023 so far, with Verstappen winning in Bahrain and Australia and Perez victorious on the street circuits in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan. As all of his Red Bull wins have come on street tracks, Christian Horner suggested that’s where Perez can capitalize but that the more conventional venues could see the pendulum swing back towards Verstappen. Perez disagrees.
“The reason I’m strong in these circuits is because I’m able to play with the car much more than I used to,” Perez said. “So I see no reason why, when we go to different circuits, I’m not able to play with the car the same way I have been doing.
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“Every weekend it’s a new challenge, so on paper it’s hard to know if it suits you or not. That’s why it’s important to keep playing with the car. I think I have a pretty good understanding with the car and I believe I can be strong anywhere.
“It’s important that we keep improving and I keep improving. I know that if I’m not perfect on Sunday I won’t be able to win a race. The only chance I have to beat Max is by being perfect, and being able to deliver when it matters.”
Currently six points behind Verstappen, Perez says he has shown his ability to handle the challenge of fighting the Dutchman in the same car, which he believes will stand him in good stead for the rest of the season.
“I’m mentally very strong and that’s my biggest strength, and has always been,” he said. “It’s not easy being Max’s teammate because he is delivering all the time and he’s winning all the time. We have seen it in the past that it’s not easy for a teammate to survive. I believe in myself, but I had to go very deep into understanding the whole concept of the car and making sure that I put the right tools in place to be able to fight.”
Perez insists he’s relishing the current situation, and says there’s no added pressure on him to be able to fight for the championship at this stage of his career.
“It’s a massive enjoyment, it’s what you’ve been working your whole life for,” he said. “I’m just enjoying it. I have no pressure, I’ve had a great career, and if I’m able to keep this going and I just want to win many more races now. And I’m just thinking on Miami, I’m not thinking too much on the championship at the moment. I’m mainly thinking about race by race, what it takes to be better here in Miami.”