‘Huge difference’: Perez pinpoints why he’s able to challenge Verstappen in 2022

Sergio Perez won the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this season.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is enjoying the feel of the RB18 under the new technical regulations having taken some time to settle into the side last season.

Perez signed for the Austrian team last year after winning the Sakhir Grand Prix with Racing Point at the end of 2020, rescuing a career that looked as though it was set to end after the arrival to the Silverstone-based team – now named Aston Martin – of Sebastian Vettel.

Perez was out-qualified 20 times in 22 races last season by Max Verstappen, who win 10 races to the Mexican’s one as the 32-year-old achieved five podiums.

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He was influential to the Dutchman’s title success when he battled away with Sir Lewis Hamilton in Turkey and Abu Dhabi so, while it looked a tough year on paper, there was a lot to smile about last year on Perez’s side of the garage – particularly after his victory in Baku.

Perez came into 2022 aiming to mount a title challenge, and his pole position in Saudi Arabia was testament to the significantly improved pace of the Mexican.

He got his just deserts in Monaco when he took the win having been cruelly denied by a Safety Car in Saudi Arabia, and he has already out-qualified the reigning champion three times in the opening nine rounds.

His results – scoring as many podiums in the first half of this season as he did throughout the whole of last year – have helped Red Bull to first in the Constructors’ Championship, while the 32-year-old is second in the Drivers’ Standings, 46 points adrift of Verstappen.

All in all, the now three-time race winner is satisfied with his progress from 2021 to this year.

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“I’m definitely more comfortable with the car than I was last year,” said Perez, quoted by Race Fans. 

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“For example, it took me a bit longer to adapt to last year’s car. 

“This year I can feel that already from FP1 I can start working on the car instead of working how to exploit the maximum out of the car, so that’s a huge difference over the weekend.

“When I go into qualifying, I’m much more prepared and similarly when I go into the race I think we’ve got a good platform. 

“I’m confident with the car and I know what I have to do with the team to take the most out of it.”

Perez will be striving for better fortunes at next weekend’s British Grand than he did in Canada last time out.

Having crashed in qualifying, the former Sauber and McLaren driver started the race 13th, but retired from the grand prix after his gearbox failed.

Verstappen went on to claim his sixth win of the season, narrowly beating Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to the line.