Perez must become “a more complete driver” to fight Verstappen for title · RaceFans

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez says he must become a more rounded driver if he hopes to fight team mate Max Verstappen for the world championship this season.

Perez is heading into his third season at Red Bull. Verstappen has won the world championship during both their seasons as team mates.

Speaking in today’s drivers’ press conference during the first day of pre-season testing, Perez said he has put a lot of work into trying to improve as a driver to be able to improve on his best ever championship finishing position of third last season.

“Certainly I want to improve what I had last year,” he told media including RaceFans. “I want to go to another step and become a more complete driver in all regards in order to make the next two steps in my championship.

Alexander Albon, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: 2023 F1 pre-season testing day one in pictures

“Being Max’s team mate is quite a challenge. He’s just very complete, hardly makes mistakes. I think that’s one of his strengths, that he’s able to be at the limit for a very long time during a weekend. That’s one of the biggest strength that he has.”

Perez began last season in good shape, scoring the first pole position of his career in Saudi Arabia and rivalling Verstappen for pace at times. But as Red Bull improved their RB18, in particularly its front-end grip, Verstappen increasingly got more out of it than his team mate.

Verstappen was better able to exploit the oversteer-prone balance the car took on over the course of the season more successfully, Perez admitted.

“I would say that definitely there are very few drivers that like understeer,” he explained. “I think there’s not many drivers that like it.

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“From my point of view, I just think Max is able to cope with a less stable rear end [better] than I am able to cope. But at the end of the day, we both want a good front end. It’s just the question of how a stable the rear end can be. And certainly Max has been able to cope with a looser rear end.”

Perez was the only driver in the 2023 field not to enjoy any running during today’s opening day of testing in Bahrain other than Lance Stroll, who is out due to injury. With Verstappen putting Red Bull quickest of all at the end of the opening day, Perez is confident that his Red Bull team will have produced another strong car for this season.

“We were really working hard with the team to try and improve the car that we had last year,” Perez said.

“Certainly everyone is working really hard and you see that the competition is a lot tighter already this morning. It’s very difficult to measure where we really are compared to the others, but we certainly had a good start.”

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