Sergio Perez: Max Verstappen isn’t my rival

Sergio Perez could become the first Mexican driver to win his home grand prix

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Sergio Perez has insisted he’s not rivals with Max Verstappen, and added he doesn’t believe he has a rivalry with any drivers in Formula 1 ahead of his home 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix.

After haemorrhaging another 17 points to Verstappen at the US GP, second-placed Perez heads south of the border a whopping 226 points behind the championship leader – which would completely smash the record for the biggest victory margin in F1 history.

With Red Bull the only car capable of winning the championship in 2023, Perez‘s uncompetitiveness has been the source of much ire from F1 fans and meant Verstappen wrapped up the title in the Qatar GP sprint race.

“I think we are all rivals, but at the same time we are all sports athletes and we want to do the best for ourselves,” Perez told the media.

“Max and myself are in the same team so we we both want to win and we’re giving our best, so I don’t think that there should be any rivalry.”

The manner in which Perez handed Verstappen the championship – crashing out of the sprint while scrapping for eighth – summed up the 2023 season in a nutshell.

And Perez insisted that other drivers were not his rivals, after yet another season of the turbo-hybrid era where the title fight was over before it had even properly begun.

“If I’m fighting in the race with Fernando [Alonso], he’s not my rival out of the track,” Perez added.

“It’s just that we are just fighting on track. But the media like to create this rivalry out of the track, which I don’t think is right and it’s important for the fans to understand that.”

Perez excited for home comforts

Sergio Perez of Red Bull during 2022 Mexican GP practice | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

With the championship over, Perez still has plenty to fight for at his home race, with Lewis Hamilton just 39 points behind in the battle for second.

After starting the last two grand prix in third, retirement and a disqualification has meant Hamilton has failed to score in consecutive races for the first time since 2010, meaning even that race hasn’t lived up to expectations.

But Perez has another significant carrot at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez – the chance to become the first Mexican driver to win in F1 on home soil.

“It’s very different,” Perez said. “It’s the weekend you want to be perfect, the weekend that you want to maximise your result. And if there’s one particular grand prix that you want to win it’s your home grand prix.

“Once I’m in the car, it’s a lot easier. It’s very easy, it comes naturally, but when you are out of the car or even in the paddock, the attention is very different, a lot of flies on you and a lot of support from the crowd.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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