Sergio Perez insists he’s still in contention for 2022 title as he looks to usurp Max Verstappen

Sergio Pérez is currently 57 points behind team-mate Max Verstappen in the Drivers' Championship.

Max Verstappen is aiming to make it back-to-back victories at the French Grand Prix, after the Dutchman famously overtook both Mercedes F1 Team drivers in the closing stages of last year’s race.

The reigning World Champion goes into this weekend’s race at the Circuit Paul Ricard with a 38-point advantage over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and a 57-point lead over team-mate Sergio Pérez.

The Dutch driver will also be hoping to bounce back after his frustrating Austrian Grand Prix, where he lost out on victory at the team’s home race to Leclerc.

Verstappen has highlighted the significance of “looking after the tyres” this weekend, as a heatwave continues to cause record temperatures across Europe.

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“We had a good result last year in France as a team,” said Verstappen.

“The track has a lot of technical and high-speed corners towards the end, so it will be important to look after the tyres, especially considering it’s going to be a very hot weekend.

“I’m looking forward to another race week where we can hopefully improve on our performance from Austria and learn from our result last time out.”

On the other side of the Red Bull Racing garage, Pérez desperately needs to bounce back after a torrid few rounds.

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The Mexican driver was forced to retire at the Red Bull Ring, after an opening lap collision with George Russell at Turn Four caused significant damage to his RB18.

Pérez’s attempt to overtake Russell went down badly with Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko, who ordered both drivers not to attempt a pass at that corner.

The 32-year-old’s retirement from the previous round means he’s now experienced two DNFs in the last three races, after being forced to retire from the Canadian Grand Prix due to a reliability problem.

With this in mind, Pérez recognises the importance of not “losing anymore points”, to stay in “contention” of the championship.

“After a tough weekend in Austria, it’s great to be back racing and have a chance to put things right,” said Pérez.

“We have had two DNFs in the past three races and we can’t afford that in the championships so I’m aiming to change that this weekend in France. I’m still in contention for the drivers’ championship, so personally it is also important not to lose any more points.”

Pérez also went well at the French GP last year, after claiming his second podium for Red Bull at the time.

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Whilst looking ahead to this weekend’s 12th round of the championship, the Mexican driver also noted tyre degradation as something to be concerned about.

“Last year I scored my second podium with the team in France, and I am very looking forward to trying to repeat that. Paul Ricard is a challenging track because there are different racing lines you can take through the corners and it’s not easy to know which is the best one to use.

“The high temperatures will also be a factor to consider this weekend, physically it looks like it will be a very demanding race and we will have to see how it goes with the tyre degradation because of the heat,” concluded the Red Bull driver.