Perez addresses number two driver concerns as he aims to leapfrog Verstappen in Baku

Sergio Perez inked a contract extension with Red Bull Racing in Monaco.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has insisted that he has equal status with team-mate Max Verstappen until his new contract ends in 2014.

Perez played rear gunner for the Dutchman last year when he brilliantly held off Sir Lewis Hamilton in Turkey and Abu Dhabi, aiding Verstappen’s cause as he went on to dramatically win the title at the Yas Marina Circuit.

The Mexican out-qualified the reigning champion twice throughout the whole of 2021, but has already matched that in the opening seven races of this year, and looks a lot more competitive.

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His pole position in Jeddah is testament to that, as well as his victory in Monaco last time out that has propelled him into championship contention.

As a result, there is nothing to say that he will spend the next two years merely helping Verstappen at Red Bull – he is there to win.

“It was signed on Friday before Monaco, we didn’t discuss about that, there’s nothing in my contract that says that I need to finish second or something like that, you know,” he said.

“So it was not a topic in the contract at all.”

Perez topped FP1 in Baku on Friday, before finishing second to Charles Leclerc in the second session.

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Barring one or two offs, the 32-year-old looked comfortable with the RB18 as he looks to continue his tremendous forward momentum, and he is feeling “confident” as he aims to take pole position for the second time this season on Saturday.

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“It was a good start to the day but the second session didn’t go as well as we would have liked,” explained Perez.

“We explored some things this afternoon and the results we wanted didn’t come but we have collected good data with both tyres, as well as on the long runs.

“There is a lot to look over this evening and go through to hook it up for qualifying tomorrow. 

“Initially the long run data looks good for the race but there are a lot of details we need to look into more.

“I feel confident around this circuit, as always with the braking you will make some mistakes here and there so I will keep my head down and focus on eradicating that.”

Team-mate Verstappen had a slightly more difficult day, finishing third in both sessions while struggling with a shaky rear wing.