Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Max Verstappen named ‘driver of the year’ over Lewis Hamilton and Dutchman has no weakness


Sergio Perez has opened up about his relationship with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, admitting “it’s not easy” being alongside the Dutchman this season. The Mexican joined the Milton Keynes-based team at the end of last season, after losing his seat at Racing Point, now Aston Martin, to Sebastian Vettel.

Since his arrival, Perez has arguably had one of his toughest jobs yet, despite 10 years of experience in F1, as the team looks to beat Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton for the first time since 2013.

After the Spanish Grand Prix, where Perez finished P5, team principal Christian Horner admitted the team “desperately” needs him to be mixing it up at the front if they are to take the fight to Mercedes.

And the 31-year-old went on the impress after Verstappen crashed out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and then more recently in Turkey holding back Hamilton mid-race.

However, Perez admitted it’s tricky being alongside a driver that has found a sweet spot with the car, despite it being his first year at Red Bull.

“It’s not easy being Max’s team-mate because he’s at one with the car,” said Perez.“He’s really delivering at a very high level.”

Verstappen has remained the number one driver since he arrived at Red Bull at the age of 18, winning on debut for the team, becoming the youngest driver to ever appear on a Grand Prix weekend at the time.


And with more pressure being added on Perez to step up in the championship to support his team-mate in the battle against Hamilton, the 31-year-old admitted the RB16B is “unique in a way that it’s something very different to what I was used to”, with Perez adding: “Some cars are easier to adapt to than others, some drivers adapt easier [than] others.

“We’ve got a unique car in a way and it hasn’t been easy.

“There’s no secret about it, but you need to be mentally very strong after each day and I think that’s one of my strengths, to take the most out of it and try to get the maximum out of every Sunday.”

Verstappen holds a six-point lead over Hamilton in the driver standings heading to Austin in just over a week’s time.
And with the championship on a knife edge, Perez believes his team-mate “has been the driver of the season, to be honest, so far”.

He added: “I had a difficult process to adapt to the car, but nothing too dramatic. It’s obviously a very good package and a very competitive one and Max is showing that this car is, if not the best, one of the best out there.

“I’ll have to think about it, but I don’t really think there are. Not obvious ones, yet.”

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