Is 2023 Sergio Perez’s final chance to beat Max Verstappen?

Sergio Pérez recently turned 33 and has only two seasons left on his contract with Red Bull, with the Mexican set to be 34 years old when it expires.

2023 looks set to be an enormous year for Red Bull for several reasons, the biggest of which being if they can maintain a working relationship between Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez.

The Austrians were imperious in 2022 and on the whole unbeatable, with Verstappen having entered a completely new league.

Verstappen destroyed the records for most wins and most points scored in a single season, with the 25-year-old having claimed 15 wins and 454 points on his way to a second consecutive World Championship.

Pérez too enjoyed arguably his best year in F1 to-date, with the Mexican having claimed two race wins and nine podiums.

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The issue for Pérez, though, is that his performances largely get overlooked, due to who’s alongside him.

Checo is an exceptional driver who has proven that he has the talent and the heart to be a World Champion, with his emotional outpour after winning the Monaco Grand Prix being evidence of that.

Had it not been for who his team-mate is then actually Pérez might find himself as Red Bull’s number one driver, a position he would find himself in at arguably every other team on the grid, bar Mercedes and Ferrari.

The Mexican is the perfect number two driver for Red Bull; he’s someone who can fight for wins and podiums but is also prepared to sacrifice his result for the good of the team.

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Since switching to Red Bull in 2021, Pérez has been asked to allow Verstappen past on several occasions, costing Checo impressive results and potentially even a race win at Barcelona.

If he wants to be World Champion, then he simply has to stop that.

After recently turning 33, the Mexican isn’t getting any younger and is also likely to not receive an extension at the Milton Keynes-based team post-2024, so why does he continue to obey every order from the team?

To beat Verstappen, he needs to behave like Verstappen, something he finally started to show at the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, where the Dutchman refused to let Pérez past.

Whilst Red Bull boss Christian Horner has insisted that the duo sorted out their differences, who’s to say it won’t happen again.

Pérez needs to put himself first in 2023 to win the World Championship, even if it costs him a future contract with Red Bull.

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Surely the sensation of winning the title would eclipse the emotions of being dropped by Red Bull, especially given the options he’ll likely receive for winning the title.

2023 feels somewhat like Pérez’s last chance to win the title, especially with some suggesting that he won’t even keep his seat for the final year of his contract.

Pérez has got what it takes to beat Verstappen, but he’ll need to be selfish to do it; however, name a World Champion who claimed their title without thinking about themselves first?