Red Bull boss makes Sergio Perez demand to prove he can fight Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez has never won for Red Bull on a normal circuit.

Sergio Perez has certainly asserted himself as Max Verstappen’s biggest title threat this season, following his brilliant victory last weekend at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Not for the first time in his Formula 1 career, Perez was the king of the streets in Baku, with the Mexican having claimed his second win of the 2023 F1 season.

His second win of the year saw him reduce Verstappen’s championship lead to just six points ahead of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, a race which the Dutchman won 12 months ago.

Perez has been exceptional so far this campaign, with him looking by far the most comfortable he’s been since moving to Red Bull.

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Most importantly, though, the 33-year-old truly believes he can “be World Champion”, something which has given him the motivation to push through the season, whilst his young family are at home.

“Having three kids at home, I wouldn’t be travelling around the world if I didn’t believe I could be world champion,” Pérez told Sky Sports F1 on Sunday.

“I’m fighting for it, but I also know that it’s long, a massive road ahead. I need to keep my head down and just keep delivering.

“Definitely there’s everything to believe that we can do well this year.”

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Last weekend was Checo at his absolute best, with the Mexican having also won the first sprint race of the season.

Whilst his win on Sunday did have an element of luck to it due to the timing of the Safety Car, there is no doubting that he did boast better pace than Verstappen.

As proven throughout the years, the occasional dose of luck is needed to be World Champion, with Perez now needing to build on from his “super weekend” at the Baku City Circuit.

“A super weekend,” Perez said. “A weekend that I think we delivered on the pressure massively, because very single session was so critical in this (sprint) format.

“It was really important to be able to deliver when it matters. [Saturday] we executed a perfect short race and [Sunday] once again we executed a tremendous race.

“That first stint to me was the key to my victory”

Perez has proven countless times now that he can beat Verstappen; however, the Mexican has only ever done so at street tracks.

Verstappen likely won’t feel threatened by Checo until he is beaten “on a normal track”, something which he must do to dethrone the Dutchman.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner also recognises that Perez must be faster on a normal circuit to reach the level needed to be champion, with that being the only way to become the 2023 World Champion.

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“I think he just needs to do it on a normal track now,” Horner said.

“He’s excelled at street circuits. All his victories, certainly for us, have been at street tracks: it’s the second time he won here, he won in Singapore, he won in Monaco, he won in Jeddah.

“He just needs to get going on the proper circuits.”