Sergio Perez will give Max Verstappen a ‘hard time’ as he escapes his shadow

Sergio Perez has been much closer to Max Verstappen in 2022, and he has been tipped to challenge the Dutchman.

Double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi insists that Red Bull driver Sergio Perez’s title hopes are still alive after a tough last few rounds.

Pere has out-qualified team-mate Max Verstappen three times this season – more than anyone has managed since Daniel Ricciardo in 2018 – out-performing him in race trim four times.

The Mexican won the Monaco Grand Prix and qualified ahead in Baku having been told to give up the win to the reigning champion in Barcelona, and he has generally looked much more on the pace this season than he did in his debut year last term.

However, Verstappen has won seven races to Perez’s one this year, and he has shown a little more consistency.

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But with an altogether more competitive look about Perez emerging this season, Fittipaldi reckons the three-time race winner can yet have a say in the title battle.

“I’m sure both Max Verstappen and Checo Perez will be strong contenders and I go even further, in my opinion, Checo Perez, he is growing, he’s getting more self-confidence,” he told Vegas Insider.

“He’s getting stronger and stronger on every Grand Prix, if his mindset this weekend is fixed to win, he has the talent, he has the speed to win.

Despite the 57-point gap between the two Red Bull drivers in the standings going into round 12 in France this weekend, the Brazilian sees no reason why Perez cannot challenge Verstappen on a consistent basis.

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“I think he’s going to give a hard time to Max from now on,” explained Fittipaldi.

“I have this feeling because he’s extremely self-confident now, he knows he has the talent, the speed and he’s not anymore a shadow to Max. 

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“He’s reality, he’s there, he’s a contender, he’s strong.

“This is my belief and this is my opinion that Checo Perez will be running strong, very strong.”

As a result, Fittipaldi reckons there will eventually be one or two fallings out between Perez and Verstappen.

“I think this is going to create some friction because of his performance, not that Max is slowing down, Max is an extremely talented driver, he’s the world champion,” he added.

“He’s leading the championship, but Checo is there. He’s there and he’s strong,” he concluded.

Perez finished P4 in France after being overtaken by George Russell towards the end of the race, while Max Verstappen comfortably won the grand prix.