Sergio Perez’s father has likened the 2023 title fight to the infamous scrap between F1 legends Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
While some believe Max Verstappen is the obvious de-facto ‘number 1’ at Red Bull, Mexican Perez is only 14 points behind – and his father Antonio says the 33-year-old is definitely charging for the title.
“You have to remember when McLaren had Senna and Prost,” Antonio Perez Garabay told the Mexican newspaper Esto.
“This is the same. Today we are living it again.
“They are two tigers, gram for gram, in the same cage. They both think the same, have the same breakfast. You see they both try to take fastest lap from one another.
“In qualifying they want pole position, they want to be fastest in free practice.”
Perez snr thinks it is obvious that Verstappen, 25, is often regarded as the lead driver because of his 2021 and 2022 titles and “how long Max has been on the team”.
“So he has a lot of advantage, but Checo can now go at Max’s pace. I think there are only a few thousandths between them in Max’s favour, but on difficult tracks I see them very even,” he added.
Perez already has a contract for 2024 and his father Antonio thinks he is as fully motivated as any top driver in the past.
“Every morning, he knows that he is on a team that is first place and that second place is the first loser,” he said.
“Today I see a different Checo Perez – the way he talks, walks and looks is different. I notice it like a father when I talk to him and he says ‘no, no, no boss, remember I am number 1’ and I tell him ‘no, no, don’t be confused’,” Perez’s father laughed.
“Earlier, finishing tenth was wonderful, but if Checo had had this opportunity from the beginning as other young drivers had, he would already be world champion several times, I have no doubt.
“I believe we will all see Checo Perez for the next ten years and I certainly see him as a world champion,” he said.
As for the comparison to Senna and Prost, Red Bull’s top official Dr Helmut Marko said that as long as the fight doesn’t descend into chaos, the pair are free to fight.
“We can afford the luxury of letting both drivers drive freely,” he told RTL.