‘Takes some getting used to for the fans of Max Verstappen’

Sergio Perez claimed victory in the Azerbaijan sprint race and in Sunday's main Grand Prix.

Following Sergio Perez’s victory at last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, several Dutch newspapers have stated that the Mexican must be able to beat Max Verstappen at a normal circuit in order to challenge for the title, with the belief being that until then, Verstappen ‘will not worry’.

Perez claimed his second win of the year on Sunday to reduce Verstappen’s championship lead to just six points, meaning he would move into the lead of the standings at the Miami Grand Prix this weekend if he’s victorious once again.

The 33-year-old in a way claimed two wins in Baku, after also being victorious in Saturday’s first sprint race of the 2023 F1 season.

His win on Sunday did have an element of luck to it, though, with Verstappen having been leading somewhat comfortably until Red Bull made an error.

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Verstappen was called to pit moments after yellow flags were flown in the opening sector, after Nyck de Vries came to a halt.

A Safety Car, though, wasn’t summoned until the double World Champion had exited the pits, meaning Perez was then able to complete his pit-stop under neutralised conditions.

This saw the Mexican lose less time in the pits, something which saw him exit in the lead of the race.

In Checo’s defence, he did then go on to control the race beautifully, with Dutch newspapers perhaps now starting to take Verstappen’s team-mate seriously, with one paper noting that it’s taking “some getting used to” for the Dutchman’s fans to be beaten by Perez.

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“Takes some getting used to for the fans of Max Verstappen, who, while having some bad luck in Baku, was also beaten on value by teammate Pérez,” read the Dutch newspaper De Telegraph.

“The – still – World Championship leader will not worry too much about it. Inside, Verstappen has rock-solid confidence that he will be able to beat his Mexican teammate on most circuits.”

Perez has also been strong at street tracks and has proven multiple times that he can beat Verstappen when at the likes of Monaco, Azerbaijan or Singapore; however, he’s yet to beat the Dutchman on an actual circuit.

To become the champion this year that is something Perez must do, with that being what will truly “hurt” the reigning World Champion.

“If the Mexican really wants to make a serious bid for the title, he will also have to be able to hurt the Limburger at an old-school circuit like Imola later in May, for example. Whether Pérez can do that remains very much to be seen,” added The Telegraph.

Another paper admitted that Perez’s win was more than “just a matter of luck”, given that Verstappen didn’t really pose any threat to his team-mate after he lost the lead.

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‘But it was far from just a matter of luck that the Red Bull driver stayed ahead of his Dutch teammate,’ read Algemeen Dagblad.

‘It automatically fuels speculation about a real fight for the world title between the two Red Bull drivers. Because never before has there been so little to discount Pérez’s victory.

‘Always he needed more bad luck from Verstappen than this ill-timed pit stop to beat the Dutchman.’