Sergio Pérez has started his 2022 campaign in the form of his life; the Mexican driver currently sits third in the drivers’ championship just 15 points behind team-mate Max Verstappen who leads the standings.
The Mexican driver has shown impressive pace in the early stages of the season, including victory at the recent Monaco GP and several second-place finishes.
His early season heroics have seen the Mexican sign a two-year contract extension with Red Bull Racing, taking him to at least the end of 2024.
Former F1 driver Marc Surer believes Red Bull have rewarded Pérez for his strong start to the season, with Surer stating that Pérez has “everything” they need.
“They have everything with him they never had in the past,” Surer said.
“And if you have to have a number two, you have to reward him somehow – and a two-year contract is a reward for me.”
For the first-time in his F1 career, Pérez stands a serious chance at being involved in the title fight.
The 32-year-old would’ve finished on the podium in Bahrain as well, had it not been for retiring on the final lap.
He has shown incredible consistency and teamwork, most notably at the Spanish Grand Prix.
On two separate occasions during the race in Spain, Pérez moved out of the way of Max Verstappen, who went on to win the race.
However, should Pérez remain in the title fight over the next few months, then team orders will have to go out of the window at Red Bull, instead of in Verstappen’s favour.
Surer is confident that in his current form, the Mexican is a “candidate” to win the championship.
“If he continues like this and scores points regularly, it’s absolutely possible,” continued the 70-year-old.
“[But] if you add up the wins now, it’s quite clear Max is still number one.
“[Perez] scores nicely and that can make a big difference at the end of the year. At the end of the day, it’s the ‘strike results’ that are the problem when you don’t finish and you lose 25 points or 18 points.
“So yes, Perez is a candidate for the World Championship.”
Surer went on to liken Pérez’ situation to that of Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 1999, who almost won the title based on consistency.
Whilst driving for Jordan, Frentzen remained in the championship fight until the final few rounds, purely because he had been consistent with third and fourth-placed finishes.
His hopes eventually faded after retiring from the lead at the Nurburgring, due to an electrical issue.
“Nobody really noticed [Frentzen],” said Surer.
“That’s the problem – one [driver] wins four races, the other one, but at the end of the day scoring points is a very important thing” concluded the former F1 driver.