Max Verstappen has to deal with ‘new’ Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez’s strength shined through in Hungary, as Red Bull aims to keep their 100% win record alive.

Sky Sports F1 pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz has seen a notable change in Sergio Perez’s demeanour as the Mexican driver arrived at the Belgian Grand Prix, encouraged by his recent podium finish in Hungary. 

Despite facing a challenging period in the F1 2023 season, Perez’s newfound confidence makes him a compelling contender for the championship title.

Earlier in the season, Perez’s performance suggested that he could be a strong title challenger, securing victories in two of the first four races in Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia. 

However, as his Red Bull teammate, Max Verstappen, elevated his game and achieved a remarkable seven consecutive wins, Perez encountered a series of setbacks. 

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He failed to reach Q3 in five successive races, experiencing eliminations in Q1 at Monaco and Britain, and Q2 in Spain, Canada, and Austria.

The Hungarian Grand Prix brought some positive changes for Perez, as he managed to qualify for the top-10 shootout for the first time since May 6. 

Although he finished in ninth place, four tenths behind Verstappen, he showcased resilience during the race, securing a crucial podium finish in third position. 

This achievement extended his lead over Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso to 32 points in the battle for the runner-up position in the Drivers’ standings.

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As Red Bull aims to continue its unbeaten run and secure a 12th consecutive win at Spa, Perez’s father’s presence adds to the significance of the occasion. 

Ted Kravitz, reporting during Sky Sports F1’s coverage of free practice in Belgium, noted Perez’s transformed attitude and composure throughout the weekend.

“Red Bull are going for 12 wins in a season, obviously Sergio Perez is part of that story as well,” remarked Kravitz. 

“I’ve seen a new Sergio this weekend, I really have. 

“He looks confident, he looks like all of the worries of the last few races have disappeared. 

|His dad is here, of course, which is always a benefit and great to see Sergio’s dad around the place. 

“It’s a family occasion at Red Bull.”

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Last year’s Belgian GP showcased Verstappen’s exceptional abilities, as he triumphed from 14th on the grid after an engine penalty, while Perez finished nearly 18 seconds behind despite starting in second place.

Although Perez found himself qualifying in P3, nearly a second behind Verstappen, the Mexican will start Sunday’s race on the front row due to the Dutchman’s grid penalty.

With a second consecutive P2 start, Perez will be hoping to show he can be a leader at Red Bull, rather than always falling behind his teammate.