Written by Benjamin Crundwell, Edited by Debargha Banerjee
As Sergio Perez dominated the streets of Baku to grab his sixth Grand Prix win, the question to be asked is: does Perez now have a chance to be a Formula 1 World Champion?
Despite a brilliant performance in the 2020 season, former Racing Point (now Aston Martin) chose to drop Sergio Perez in order to make space for the four time world champion Sebastian Vettel. What appeared to be the end of his career turned out to be a miracle in disguise when a Red Bull contract fell onto his desk later that year. The 2021 season was a mixed bag of performances for the Mexican, as he failed to keep up with Max Verstappen but also clinched his maiden victory for his new team in Baku and defended a fiesty Lewis Hamilton to help his teammate to his first world title in the championship decider. In the 2022 season Perez showed more pace and took wins at the Monaco and Singapore Grand Prix. However, he was never considered as a serious threat to the championship although giving Ferrari's Charles Leclerc a tough challenge for the second place in the championship.
Just four races into 2023 and Sergio Perez has added two wins to his tally, and he sits just six points behind his teammate and championship leader Max Verstappen. While in the past two years Perez has been happy to play his role as the number two driver, he has made it clear in the media he will not settle for second this year, having said “I am in this championship, and I want to win”. These words were proven on track at Jeddah when the Red Bull drivers upped it a notch as they exchanged fastest laps to the end, ignoring the engineers request to stick to a slower lap time.
Sergio Perez has proven himself as one of the best drivers on the grid in his time in the sport. However, in order to win he will have to overcome the reigning world champion Max Verstappen in equal machinery. Although Verstappen has built a legacy for making it quite tough for his teammates, Perez is yet to succumb to his teammates' pressure. The first four races of this year have only proven that the Mexican is more than ready to take the fight to his teammate, as he has succeeded to hold off if not match the pace of Verstappen, who is in the best form of his career.
Although many fans speculated otherwise, Red Bull are treating both drivers fairly and allowing them to race each other, Christian Horner claimed “It is great to see Checo (Perez) doing certainly a great job now”. Perez has received similar compliments from his teammate who has shown no bother about having a teammate who is keeping up with his pace. History suggests that this happy relationship might not last however, most recently a fall out with Ricciardo and more famously the rivalry between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in the early 2010’s saw a good relationship quickly turned sour when the pair came together in Turkey with tension at it's peak in Malaysia 2013 during the infamous “Multi 21” incident. Tension showed between the Bull’s last year in Interlagos when Verstappen refused to play the team game to help Perez take second place in the championship, perhaps a foreshadow of what is to come.
If Sergio Perez can keep his form in Miami then he will cement his position as the man who can beat Max Verstappen. This title will go down to the wire as the two Red Bulls lock horns. Will Perez do what Ricciardo, Albon, and Gasly could not do, and be the one to break the “Red Bull curse”?