‘Mexico will have a F1 champion in the hands of Checo Perez’, declares Papa Perez

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez laughing during a press conference. Imola April 2022

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez laughing during a press conference. Imola April 2022

Papa Perez has hailed Sergio Perez’s relationship with the “great” Red Bull team, sharp contrast to last year’s rant after the Sao Paulo Grand Prix team order row.

Antonio Perez weighed in last year when his son was denied two points by his team-mate Max Verstappen who refused to adhere to team orders to hand P6 to the Mexican driver on the final lap in Brazil.

As the two had a brief verbal spat, Perez says Verstappen’s antics showed “who he really is”, Papa Perez told esto.com that Verstappen was feeling threatened by Perez as he could “feel Checo’s breath in his helmet”.

But like Perez, he too was quick to calm down and shortly after insisted there were “no bad intentions” in play.

Fast forward two months and arguably one of the most likeable fathers on the F1 grid is talking up his son’s relationship with the “great” Red Bull team.

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“It is a great relationship, it is a great family, there are many things that look different, I can tell you that the best thing that has happened in the history of Checo Perez’s sport has been his relationship with Red Bull,” he told encancha.mx.

“It must be remembered that Checo was not at this level and he found it, after he lost everything at Force India and Racing Point when he was fired and left without a job, but in these two years they have been the most important in all terms for Checo Pérez.

“Emotionally, like dad, he is at his best, this is very important for everyone to see.”

Papa Perez is hoping that translates into a 2023 title challenge, Perez finishing third last season with two wins on the board.

“I tell you that the best of Checo Perez, we have not seen it yet, he has much more to give and surely with the passage of time Mexico will have a F1 champion in the hands of Checo Perez,” he declared.

The only ‘breath in a helmet’ is Ricciardo’s in Perez’s

While Papa Perez is dreaming of a World title for his son and Mexico, and no one holds that against him, based on last year’s form Perez would have to dramatically up his game to even come close to challenging Verstappen.

And that, for career longevity, may not be good thing.

If Perez annoys Verstappen, the driver with the World titles and the power at Red Bull, his replacement is already waiting in the wings in the form of Daniel Ricciardo.

The Aussie has returned to the comforts of home to “mum and dad” and while today he’s not keen on racing, worried another bad season would destroy what little confidence he has left, that may change when the lights go out in Bahrain.

If Perez doesn’t play the team game in the hope of fighting for a title of his own, he may yet throw his Red Bull career away for what, let’s be honest, is more of a fanciful hope than a reality.