Sergio Perez has bullishly set himself the target of being in the frame for victory in every single race throughout the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Although Perez sustained statistically his strongest season to date last term to clinch two wins on his way to finishing a career-best third in the Drivers’ standings, the Mexican driver was still emphatically beaten by his current Red Bull team-mate and defending World Champion, Max Verstappen.
Verstappen was able to register a record-breaking 15 wins in 2022 – more than the number of podiums his team-mate was able to muster in the title-winning RB18 – and score 149 more points than Perez in equal machinery.
Despite the crushing defeat Verstappen has inflicted on him two years running, Perez has challenged himself to produce more consistent performances of an even loftier standard in 2023 as he aims to overturn the Dutchman’s intra-team dominance at the third attempt.
“I want to maximise the car potential that we get,” Perez said.
“I want to be fighting for the win every weekend. I’m really working hard for it and that’s my main target.”
While Perez was able to be a match for his team-mate in the early stages of last season, Verstappen soon accelerated away to comfortably have the measure of the Mexican for most of the campaign.
However, the four-time F1 race winner has suggested that some wrongful set-up choices were to blame for some lacklustre showings midway through the year and he hopes that lengthy discussions with his engineers back at the team’s Milton Keynes base should avoid a repeat of such noticeable dips in form this season.
“I have done a lot of work with the engineers over the winter to make sure we understood those races. We took some directions with the setup that perhaps were the wrong ones. I think towards the end of the year we understood them,” he said.
After their dominance last year, Red Bull are expecting a much sterner test from rival teams in 2023 and Perez has refused to discount the possibility of some midfield teams springing a surprise.
“It’s really hard to know at the moment,” Perez responded when asked to predict who will emerge as Red Bull’s main challenger for the championship in 2023.
“Certainly Mercedes have been very competitive towards the end of the season, similarly Ferrari – so I will expect them to be up there. I know obviously there are some midfield teams that are making big steps over the winter, so we’ll see once we are in Bahrain.”
Providing another constructor steps up to threaten Red Bull, the Austrian outfit will need to avoid the sort of clashes between their drivers that engulfed the team at the Brazilian Grand Prix last year.
Perez was outraged when Verstappen – nursing a damaged car – refused to give up a position to him in the closing stages to aid his pursuit of second in the championship against Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
While the pair cleared the air ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, with Verstappen’s actions eventually proving inconsequential, Perez has reiterated that the Red Bull pairing must move to avoid such incidents becoming a recurring theme by always prioritising the team effort first.
“It’s important to work as a team. I think in that regard, it’s very clear. We want to maximise the team effort. It’s not all about Max and myself, it’s about the team,” he stated.
“We have so many people back in the factory giving everything for us, so we have to respond in that regard. I’m working very hard on my side with my engineers to make sure that we are able to go on to the next step.”
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