‘There was no controversy’: Max Verstappen praised as Sergio Perez told he has no chance

Sergio Perez moved to within a point of Max Verstappen in the Drivers' Championship following his victory in Saudi Arabia.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Christian Danner believes Sergio Perez “doesn’t stand a chance” at beating team-mate Max Verstappen to the 2023 F1 title, despite the Mexican having started the season excellently.

The former Zakspeed driver is certain that the reigning World Champion is simply “just very smart” and able to adapt to any situation, whether that be an illness or a bad qualifying session.

The Dutchman was faced with both at the recent Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, after he battled a stomach virus just a matter of days before the weekend in Jeddah.

To add to his difficulties, he started the race from P15 following a driveshaft failure in Q2, whilst Perez started on pole.

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Verstappen was able to recover to second following a string of excellent overtaking moves; however, he had no answer to Perez who claimed his first victory of 2023.

Perez did everything he needed to at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and ultimately capitalised on Verstappen’s issues, something the 33-year-old must do at every opportunity.

Just a point separates the pair ahead of this weekend’s race in Australia, where Verstappen retired 12 months ago.

Danner was full of praise for Verstappen after his recovery drive in Jeddah, with the German having noted that the 25-year-old is “an incredibly superior driver”.

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“For the first few laps I didn’t even notice him,” Danner told Servus TV. “But he was overtaking cars one after the other.

“There was no controversy, no sticky situations, just very smart, very calm. You can see how he’s matured and what an incredibly superior driver he is now.”

Verstappen in his defence wasn’t feeling 100-percent in Jeddah and was actually granted permission by the FIA to delay his flight to the circuit, in a bid to return to full health.

He missed his media duties as a result and revealed ahead of this weekend just how unwell he continued to feel throughout the weekend, with the plan being to fully recover between Australia and Azerbaijan.

“It felt like I was missing a lung,” Verstappen admitted in Melbourne on Thursday.

“When I jumped in the car in FP1, after just one performance lap I had to recover for two laps to be able to breathe normally again.”

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Verstappen will be hoping that he doesn’t suffer from any nasty stomach bugs for the remainder of the season given the difficulties it gave him, especially whilst Perez is performing at his very best.

The Mexican truly believes that he can beat his team-mate to the title and is determined to achieve his dream; however, Danner doesn’t see any reality where Verstappen is beaten.

“Of course Perez believes that he can beat Verstappen,” said Danner. “But I have to say as an outsider that he doesn’t stand a chance.”