‘Max Verstappen v Sergio Perez new edition of Ayrton Senna v Alain Prost’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen looking glum in the post-race press conference with Sergio Perez. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Max Verstappen won't do Sergio Perez favours in his race for P2.

Sergio Perez’s rivalry with Max Verstappen is the “new edition” of Ayrton Senna versus Alain Prost, that’s according to the Mexican driver’s father Antonio Perez.

After two seasons of being Verstappen’s wingman at Red Bull, supporting the Dutchman as he clinched back-to-back World titles, this year Perez has stepped out of his team-mate’s shadow.

With two grand prix wins on the board, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan, the 33-year-old has made his best-ever start to a championship and it is one that has him dreaming of a first World title.

But in order to achieve that he needs to beat his team-mate, who is 14 points ahead in the Drivers’ standings with one of those points scored through his fastest lap in Saudi Arabia.

That Sunday Perez was left questioning Red Bull’s intra-team communication after Verstappen ignored the team’s set delta time to put in a fastest lap on the final lap of the grand prix to snatch that point away from Perez.

With the rivalry between the two growing, Papa Perez has equated it to the Senna versus Prost during their McLaren days.

“For me, this is the new edition of Senna and Prost at McLaren,” Speedweek quotes him as having told Por Esto.

“We have two tigers in the same cage. They think alike, they act alike. They try to snatch the point for the fastest lap from each other, because every point counts in this World Championship.

“Not only do they chase every pole position, they also want to be one step ahead in every free practice session.”

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Papa Perez, though, should probably note that didn’t end well with Senna and Prost crashing at the 1989 and 1990 Japanese Grands Prix as they fought for the World titles.

“Max has been in the racing team longer,” Perez continued, “so it’s obvious that many people see him as the team leader. But Checo can keep up with Verstappen.

“It’s all about nuances in favour of Max. But on difficult circuits, the two are on an equal footing.

“My son has changed. What he says and how he behaves is different, he shows a lot more self-confidence. He used to be happy for points.

“It took a long time before he got a competitive car. If this chance had come earlier, Checo would already be World Champion, I’m quite sure of that.

“And he still has 10 years to go to win the title.”