Sergio Perez speaks out on Red Bull preventing him from fighting Max Verstappen for 2023 title

With Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen locked in a close battle for the 2023 Drivers’ Championship, the Mexican isn’t willing to settle for being Red Bull’s number two.

Max Verstappen has long been seen as Red Bull’s leading driver, having powered the team to the Constructors’ Championship last season and two Drivers’ titles, as well as 36 race wins and 79 podiums. 

However, Verstappen’s grip on the team and the 2023 Drivers’ Championship appears to be at risk with his teammate Sergio Perez laying down the challenge in equal machinery, as the two fight tooth and nail for success.

The ending of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix put this battle on full display, as Perez had been on track to lead the Drivers’ Standings for the first time in his career.

However, putting on a last lap charge, seemingly against team orders, Verstappen snatched the fastest lap point as he crossed the finish line, retaining his lead in the championship by one point.

READ: Max Verstappen revelation explains why he couldn’t match Sergio Perez

Perez has opened up for the first time since Saudi Arabia about his position in the team and how willing he is to support Verstappen’s campaign for a third consecutive world championship.

“I can say now that I really feel part of the team. I really feel like I have my place, and I am well respected. And I think that’s something good to have as a driver,” Perez said ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

“I really believe that I have the full support of the team as much as Max does, and that I will have every opportunity to win the championship as much as Max.

“Certainly, I feel more comfortable in the [RB19],” the Mexican explained.

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“I think we also learned quite a bit on which direction we took last year, not just the car itself, but also with how we set it up and how we tried to compensate for the weaknesses that it was giving me. We were just taking performance out of the car.”

READ: Red Bull warned about Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez ‘explosion’

Speaking to reporters, Perez seemed to indicate that he believe he has a shot at taking the fight to Verstappen despite the Dutchman’s strong showing in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. 

“I believe that at the moment, we are asking for the same things. In these first races, we’ve been very, very close together,” Perez said. 

“I think that’s important to be able to stay in the fight throughout the season: to have a car that you can be competitive, whatever conditions you are in.”