Perez lays down gauntlet to Red Bull teammate Verstappen

Sergio Perez took his second victory of the 2023 F1 season in Baku

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Sergio Perez has said he is in the fight for the Drivers’ Championsip after he took his second victory of the year at the Azerbaijan GP.

Perez had a perfect weekend in Baku after also winning the Sprint Shootout, closing the gap to teammate Max Verstappen at the top of the standings.

Speaking to media after the race, Perez indicated confident he could compete with Verstappen for the championship, and iterated he had an eye on the long-term fight.

“Well, I think it’s a long year ahead,” Perez said. “You know, I really believe that we are in the fight. I think without the problems we had in the qualifying marathon, we should be a lot closer.

“So it’s important not to have those problems ever again and to minimise the problems because I think at the end of the day, it’s just very important to make sure that whenever we cannot win, we finish second. It’s still a good day.”

Intense fight

Perez said the battle with Verstappen was intense as he fought to keep up with his teammate in the early stages of the race as the Red Bull pair passed polesitter Charles Leclerc.

Perez eventually took the lead of the race after a safety car when Verstappen pitted earlier, and managed to hold on for the win.

“It was very intense. You know, the first stint was super intense between just making sure I stayed in that DRS. And once I was in the DRS, just pushing Max to make sure that he used his tires, and I think that was one of the keys,” Perez said.

“But then once we were on the, on the hot compound, it was really hard to not to keep Max behind because, yeah, he knew that as soon as he will get the honest one. That’s it, really.

“So just to keep him behind this was a massive challenge. And we were pushing each other massively. We really gave it a lap after lap. I’m really happy to come away with this victory.”

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