Lewis Hamilton features in Max Verstappen prediction with Sergio Perez overlooked

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen explaining to his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez did not feature in Max Verstappen's 2024 top three

Max Verstappen has snubbed his team-mate and last year’s runner-up Sergio Perez as he put forward his prediction for this season’s top three in the Drivers’ Championship.

Last season, in arguably the most dominant season by a Formula 1 team, Red Bull claimed 21 of 22 Grand Prix wins and a first-ever 1-2 in the standings.

No room for Sergio Perez in Max Verstappen’s top three for 2024

Verstappen clinched the title with 575 points with Perez securing the 1-2 for Red Bull with 285. The team wrapped up the Constructors’ with more than double Mercedes’ points.

This season, though, Verstappen is expecting a different outcome with the reigning World Champion saying he believes Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc will join him in the top three for the season.

“Me, then Lewis, and then Charles,” he said in a Q&A preview for the season with Viaplay.

There was no mention of his team-mate Perez. Even when naming one driver who will win a Grand Prix this season, the Mexican driver didn’t feature with Verstappen giving that P1 to McLaren’s Lando Norris.

“Well for sure I hope I do,” he said on the eve of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. “But we won’t write that down. I think I’ll go for someone that hasn’t won one yet… Lando!”

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Verstappen, who got his title defence off to a perfect start in Bahrain as he clinched the win and the fastest lap point, said he reckons his tally for his season will be 12 from 22.

That’s a notable step down on last year’s 19 as he hedged his bets. “Twelve,” he said. “If it becomes more I can always say I did a better job.”

As for when he’ll wrap up the Drivers’ Championship having done so last season in Qatar’s sprint race leaving him with six Grands Prix still to be run, this year he says it will be concluded in Las Vegas.

“I think with three to go. I don’t know which one that is,” he said.

And there’s good news for Red Bull’s junior team, RB, with Verstappen predicting a podium although he didn’t say if it will be his old team-mate Daniel Ricciardo or Yuki Tsunoda who grabs the top-three result.

“How are we going to call the team… Visa Cash App RB, they’ll get a podium,” he added.

Read next: How RB and Ferrari fired the first shots in 2024 team-mate wars