Sergio Perez Max Verstappen

Uzma Fatima

Max Verstappen Facing Big Challenge From Sergio Perez Since Daniel Ricciardo’s Departure

The 2023 F1 world championship winner is not so certain after fans got Sergio Perez as the most prominent title contender standing just 6 points behind Max Verstappen. With two consecutive championships, aggressive racing moves, and the record for most wins in a season, the Dutch driver made everyone believe this year would be his hat trick win. But Sergio Perez’s strong performance has made it a more challenging feat for Max. Since when Max Verstappen joined Red Bull in 2016, he has remained the main driver of the team. All of his teammates were just the second driver. And when someone like Daniel Ricciardo became challenged the same as Max, he had to take a quick exit. Ricciardo had to leave Red Bull in 2018 after a dispute occurred with Max. However, today, you may see Red Bull revolving around a similar plot.

Recently, the former teammate of Mexican driver Sergio Perez, from MacLaren, Jenson Button, has compared Red Bull’s current situation to five years ago when Daniel Ricciardo challenged Max Verstappen. According to Button, Perez is the only driver besides Ricciardo who can challenge Verstappen. Checo is not just a teammate or second driver of Red Bull anymore. He is a THREAT to the two-time world champion now.

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Max Verstappen with Daniel Ricciardo (Getty Images)

Claiming 2023 to be the supposed time for Sergio Perez to make his first championship win, Button said, “It is definitely Checo’s best chance.” Sergio Perez has already defeated Max Verstappen in two out of the four Grand Prix held so far. In the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, perhaps he got lucky with Max’s RB19’s driveshaft issues. But in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Checo beat Max all by himself, taking advantage of the Saftey car. This has raised expectations for the Mexicana fandom to keep defeating Verstappen in the driver’s championship of the year.

Sergio Perez Vs. Max Verstappen Makes The Boring 2023 F1 Season A Little Exciting

However, comparing this situation to that of Ricciardo’s, a concern is emerging. During his tenure with Red Bull, the Australian driver won four races from 2016 to 2018. And sadly, he remained the only one to have beaten Max. After Daniel Ricciardo, there came Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon, but none of them were able to challenge Max. However, this year, the history seems to get repeated with further danger for the Dutchman. Red Bull’s equal on two wins made Button believe, “Max has not had a challenger like Sergio Perez since Danial Ricciardo.”

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez won The Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Moreover, speaking with Sky Sports, the 2009 F1 world champion appreciated Sergio Perez for his confidence in the last race. He won the sprint race on Saturday and was ready to do the same thing more, and he did. “It was just a fantastic confidence,” Jenson Button remarked.

What makes the 2023 season more exciting? Jenson believes it is the fact that there is a real challenger for Max Verstappen. For him, it is frustrating to have a competition, but “it is also great that there is a challenge ahead of Max Verstappen,” making the season actually alive.