Sergio Perez warns Max Verstappen he won’t listen to team orders anymore

Sergio Perez's double victory in Azerbaijan saw him close to within six points of Max Verstappen in the championship.

Sergio Perez is very much in the fight to be the 2023 Formula 1 World Champion, after the Mexican capitalised on a Safety Car to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

24 hours after winning Saturday’s first sprint race of the season, Perez was in the number one spot again as he crossed the line to win Sunday’s race at the Baku City Circuit, cutting Max Verstappen’s lead in the Drivers’ Championship to just six points.

It means that if Perez wins at the upcoming Miami Grand Prix, then he will move into the lead of the standings, something he’s certainly targeting.

The 33-year-old enjoyed an excellent weekend in Baku, with him having inherited the race lead from Verstappen after the Dutchman pitted moments before a Safety Car was called.

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Perez pitted under the Safety Car so lost less time whilst in the pits, resulting in him gaining the actual lead of the race.

Once in the lead he never looked in danger of slipping back into second, as he cruised to his second win of the season.

The victory very much keeps Perez’s dream of being champion alive, with him having shared that being victorious come the end of the season is “my objective”.

“I am here to be champion. That is my objective,” Perez told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo

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“Maintaining a good relationship with the team is important, but there will be a moment when I am thinking about me.”

He knows that only perfection throughout the season will see him dethrone Verstappen; however, in Azerbaijan he did just that, with him now feeling “closer than ever” to being champion.

 “Be perfect,” Perez answered, when asked how he can beat Verstappen.

“Against him, I can’t leave anything on the table. Max always maximises the car’s potential, so if I go to 99.99 percent, it won’t be enough.

“For me, this season is a great opportunity and I face it like this – I feel closer than ever. Every year is one year less in my career. I keep in my mind that I am closer to the end of my career than to the beginning.”

Only Perez’s very best will be enough to challenge Verstappen this season, with the Mexican believing he’s in a better position this season than he was last year.

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“I have to be at my best level in all the races,” added Checo.

“Last year it was difficult for me to understand the degradation with these new generation tyres and now I have it very much in mind.

“Also last year, the weight distribution of the car changed a lot and that didn’t benefit me.”