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Does This Victory Bolster Perez’s Status as a Title Contender Against Verstappen?



Perez Title Contender Verstappen Does This Victory Bolster Perez

Perez Emerges as a Title Contender in 2023: A Stunning Triumph Over Verstappen Unfolds. In a spectacular display of skill and strategy, Sergio Perez claimed victory over his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Capitalizing on a timely safety car deployment, Perez narrowed the championship gap to just six points.

Sergio Perez capitalized on a safety car deployment to triumph over his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in a thrilling duel at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Perez’s second Formula 1 grand prix victory this year narrows the gap to six points behind Verstappen in the standings.

But does this enhance Perez’s status as a title contender and is it his most decisive win against Verstappen so far? Here are our writers’ opinions.

This may be Perez’s finest victory, as his race pace was robust even though the safety car timing allowed him to overtake Verstappen.

Perez Title Contender Verstappen

While it’s hard to see this win having a significant impact on the championship, as Verstappen is likely to outperform Perez over the course of the season, displays like this help Perez stay in the running and maintain his presence in the title race.

Perez deserves credit for continually pushing himself and maintaining a title-winning mentality. He has not settled for being a supporting act and has consistently elevated his performance.


As he experiences more days like this, his confidence will grow, but he will need to achieve many more such victories to be considered a strong contender against Verstappen for the season.

For Verstappen, it’s crucial not to dwell on this defeat and avoid frustration about Perez’s additional win. He is well aware that he will generally come out on top, and his post-race reaction seems to confirm that.

The safety car’s timing was undoubtedly a significant factor in determining the race outcome. However, it appeared that Perez was faster than Verstappen throughout the grand prix, regardless of the safety car’s assistance. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to witness Perez actively pursuing Verstappen and challenging Red Bull to allow him an on-track overtaking opportunity for the win.

Perez Title Contender Verstappen

Perez was so quick during the race’s early stages that he closed the DRS gap before Verstappen opted for a slightly premature pitstop. Verstappen wore out his tires more quickly than Perez and later voiced concerns about his RB19’s balance and the interplay between the car’s differential settings and engine braking for corner deceleration, causing him to lose ground on Perez.

TV visuals revealed that Verstappen only gained time on Perez when in the slipstream on straightaways. Despite leading Verstappen and breaking the air resistance for most of the grand prix, Perez managed to stay out of DRS reach and counter any faster laps by Verstappen.

Verstappen is correct to view Baku as an exceptional circuit, and it’s likely that he will remain the stronger Red Bull driver for most of the season. However, Perez’s performance in this race should serve as a significant morale booster. In contrast to last year, he thoroughly outperformed Verstappen on this occasion.

This was undoubtedly Perez’s finest victory and his most meaningful win against Verstappen. It marked the first time he didn’t require Verstappen’s absence to secure a victory.


Although the safety car’s role in altering their positions was crucial, it’s worth noting that Perez was already in a position to pass Verstappen when Max made an early pitstop.

Verstappen might have wanted or needed that early pitstop, but Perez didn’t, as he was more content with his car’s balance and performed better at that stage.

Considering Perez’s pace, it’s likely he could have won this race regardless of the safety car intervention. His performance was impressive enough to warrant giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Perez Title Contender Verstappen

In essence, this can be viewed as a fair competition, which Perez convincingly won.

While Verstappen’s reaction on Saturday may have hinted at feeling pressure from Perez, his response on Sunday—acknowledging that he has also benefited from well-timed safety cars in the past—dispelled that notion.

Given how much better Checo was at the end of the first stint and how he pulled away during the second, this was essentially a head-to-head defeat for Verstappen. Nevertheless, he seemed quite unruffled when talking to his team and during interviews after the race.

Verstappen may not believe that Perez is inherently superior on street circuits, but he could think that Perez outperforms his baseline more than Verstappen does in such settings.


Verstappen commented that things “aren’t going to be perfect all the time.” In a two-car title race, perfection isn’t always necessary. Verstappen should only be genuinely concerned if Perez consistently performs at a much closer level on more traditional tracks, such as in Melbourne.

This race demonstrated that overtaking largely depends on the track rather than car design, as most of the excitement occurred during the start and the safety car restart. Afterward, the race became somewhat processional, with the hard tire proving to be too durable.

Regarding who should have won, it’s evident that Red Bull outperformed other teams. For viewers, the most critical aspect is that the driver in second place in the championship, Perez, scored more points than the leader, Verstappen, keeping the championship battle alive.

Both Perez and Verstappen showcased excellent driving skills, pushing their limits and even making contact with the wall at various moments. However, their primary competition, Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari, lagged behind by a significant 17 seconds, highlighting the dominance of the Red Bull team in this race.

Perez Title Contender Verstappen Does This Victory Bolster Perez Perez Title Contender Verstappen Does This Victory Bolster Perez Perez Title Contender Verstappen Does This Victory Bolster Perez Perez Title Contender Verstappen Does This Victory Bolster Perez

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