Max Verstappen reveals how ‘wrong’ Sergio Perez ‘motivation’ inspired him

Michelle Foster
Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez walk and share a joke at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.

Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez share a joke.

Max Verstappen has revealed Sergio Perez’s team talking him up as F1’s ‘Street King’ did more harm than good as it inspired the Dutchman to prove them wrong.

Winning two of the 2023 F1 championship’s opening races, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan, Perez lined up on the Miami Grand Prix grid with his team, notably his father Papa Perez, and pundits also labelling him ‘F1’s Street King’.

Verstappen proved them all wrong.

Max Verstappen was inspired by Sergio Perez’s ‘Street King’ tag

Although that Sunday Perez was on pole position with Verstappen down in ninth place due to a poor opening gambit and a late red flag for Charles Leclerc, it was the Dutchman who won the Grand Prix.

Overtaking Perez on the track on lap 48 of the 57-lap Grand Prix, the reigning World Champion took the chequered flag five seconds ahead of his team-mate.

What followed next was a 10-race winning streak for Verstappen and a wretched qualifying run for Perez. By the time Perez recovered, Verstappen was all but mathematically the 2023 World Champion.

Verstappen has revealed Perez’s people and pundits talking up the Mexican driver’s ability on street courses is what inspired his initial charge. recommends

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Asked about Perez’s Street King nickname, the triple World Champion told Viaplay: “It only makes me even more motivated to show that it is not the case.

“That is actually the wrong motivation for other people, but it’s not like that scares me.

“Certain media, for example from Mexico or Spanish-language media, are of course hyping that. People are of course hoping for a title fight anyway.”

With two wins and two losses apiece in the opening four races, Verstappen and Perez were separated by a mere six points after the Mexican driver’s second win of the season in Baku.

By the end of the campaign, it was 575 points to 285 in the Dutchman’s favour.

“I also know that at the start of the season, we will never really get the circuits that suit me perfectly. Those tracks will only come later in the year, the faster circuits with lots of fast corners,” said Verstappen.

‘I wasn’t worried at all at that moment. It was just a matter of us having to tie certain details together a little better. In the end, we succeeded quite well after Baku.”

Verstappen reminded Perez that winning a championship is not solely based on belief, it’s also consistency that’s required.

He added: “You can certainly believe in it yourself. But in the end there are a lot of races during a season.

“To become champion, you have to be very consistent. You can hardly make mistakes. That is ultimately what a championship is won on.”

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