Nico Rosberg, the 2016 World Champion, believes Sergio Perez’s Monaco victory was a statement to Red Bull that he wants to, and can, fight for the title.
Perez had been in prime position to push for victory at the Spanish Grand Prix once Charles Leclerc had retired from the lead, but team orders saw him yield to team-mate Max Verstappen who went on to win, Perez finishing P2.
But at a damp Monaco Grand Prix, Perez was able to execute the overcut on the Ferraris, putting him into the lead of the race which he converted into his first victory of 2022.
With Verstappen finishing P3 behind Carlos Sainz there was no opportunity for Red Bull to swap their drivers, Perez withstanding the pressure until the clock ran out to confirm him as victor.
So, to Rosberg’s mind, that was statement made.
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“Best way to say ‘don’t do that with me, guys, I want to fight for the World Championship as well here’ and what a brilliant weekend, everything perfect,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1.
“And let’s not underestimate how difficult it is to do those out-laps in those conditions and get the timings right and everything – just spectacular.”
There was a slight error for Perez after the final race restart, a lock-up taking precious life out of his medium tyres.
But from there he defended valiantly, ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta claiming Perez and Leclerc would have been the only drivers clearly deserving of the win.
Put to him that Perez’s defence was superb at the end as well to keep Sainz at bay, Di Resta replied: “Yeah, but that was kind of self-inflicted. He went too hard at it too early and had that flat spot like Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal] said, but he made the car as wide as possible.
“There were two guys, I think, this weekend you couldn’t deny the win [to] because they excelled and that’s Checo and if Leclerc had won, regardless of how the weather all played out.
“But for Checo to get that done, it’s immense his stability within Red Bull as well.”
After the win, Perez now trails Drivers’ Championship leader Verstappen by only 15 points, so Rosberg believes the Monaco victor has now put himself into title contention.
“Yeah, incredible, you wouldn’t really expect it but he’s right there,” said Rosberg. “And he’s also much closer pace-wise to Verstappen this year.
“So let’s see how the next couple of races pan out, but it’s great.”
Red Bull are the big winners in Monaco
Red Bull come away from Monaco with a surprising race win and both drivers on the podium.