Sergio Perez tipped as potential 2023 champion

Max Verstappen is the obvious favourite to win the 2023 championship, but Sergio Perez is in with a shout.

Heading into the 2023 season, Max Verstappen and Red Bull look like a formidable force once again.

The energy drink giants topped the timing screens across all three days of pre-season testing and head into the season opening in Bahrain as the clear favourites to take victory.

The RB19 looks to be a positive evolution of the RB18, with the car experiencing very few issues across testing and practice.

Former F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi has been impressed with Red Bull heading into the first race of the season but has claimed that it will be the driver that will make the difference rather than the car.

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“One thing that I was very impressed with while watching testing was the grip in the new Red Bull car,” he said.

“The new car seems to be sticking to the ground. Such great grip. Coming out of corners, when you put the power down, it was not gliding or changing directions.

“It was like it was on rails, compared to most of the cars. That to me was a very strong indication.

“But it’s their own performance. How the driver can adapt to the car, adapt to the conditions of the track and adapt the car to his style of driving. That’s what makes a difference.”

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The Brazilian has agreed that Max Verstappen is certainly the favourite to win the Bahrain Grand Prix and has suggested that his biggest competition for the win could come from his teammate.

“I think Max should be on pole but Checo Perez should be very close,” claimed Fittipaldi.

“It is a very important year for Checo Perez. He really has the possibility to perform very well. He knows the team well, he knows the engineers, he knows the car. Now he’s part of the whole structure of the team.

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“It could be a very good year for Checo. We could see a surprise with Checo Perez this year, in my opinion.”

Perez has admitted that he is targeting a title charge this year, after spending two seasons essentially serving as Max Verstappen’s wingman.

With Verstappen looking almost unbeatable last season, only time will tell whether Perez has what it takes to dethrone his teammate.