Sergio Perez claims he should be ahead of Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez reduced Max Verstappen's advantage to six points in Azerbaijan, after he won the sprint and the grand prix.

After being victorious at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sergio Perez believes he “should be leading the championship” and not team-mate Max Verstappen, who boasts a narrow advantage over the Mexican.

Perez has started 2023 brilliantly, with the 33-year-old having claimed two victories from the opening four races.

The Red Bull driver was the victor in Saudi Arabia and at the Baku City Circuit last weekend, whilst he finished second at the season-opener in Bahrain.

It’s his result at the Australian Grand Prix, though, which has cost him the lead of the championship as things stand, with Checo having been eliminated in Q1.

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Australia was by far his most difficult weekend of the season so far, after the Mexican was forced to retire his car in Q1 due to having beached it at Turn 3.

Whilst he did recover from last to finish a superb fifth, Verstappen cruised to victory, with the Dutchman having finished no lower than second this year.

The double World Champion won in Bahrain and Australia, whilst he finished second in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan.

With Perez having won Saturday’s first sprint race of the season, though, he remains right behind Verstappen, who can’t afford to make a mistake.

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Likewise, an error for Perez this weekend at the Miami Grand Prix would be so costly, with the experienced driver knowing that only perfection will defeat Verstappen.

With that in mind, Checo knows that had he not beached his RB19 in Australia, then he’d probably be at the top of the standings.

“I think without the issues we had in qualifying in Melbourne, we should be leading the championship, so definitely there is everything to believe we can do well this year,” Perez told Sky Sports F1.

With Red Bull being so dominant once again this season, it looks set that the title fight will be Verstappen against Perez, something which could cause some behind-the-scenes issues for team principal Christian Horner.

The pair have already clashed once this season in Saudi Arabia following miscommunication from the team, something they’ll be desperate to avoid going forward.

Perez, though, doesn’t seem too concerned by any potential issues with the 25-year-old, who he admits to having a “great relationship” with.

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“I think, to be honest, it’s a great relationship between Max and myself,” Perez said.

“Although not many people believe [it], we are very similar. We have a life out of the sport and when we are home we pretty much disconnect from it.

“When we are on track, we come, try to do the best possible job, we try to beat each other… I’m sure Max will look at my data, I will look at his, and we’re just pushing each other massively. I think this year is about not making those mistakes.”