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Can Perez become an F1 world champion?

Can Perez become an F1 world champion?

Can Perez become an F1 world champion?

Can Perez become an F1 world champion?

Sergio Perez enters his third season with Red Bull knowing there can be no excuses now when it comes to challenging for the title.

The Mexican driver joined the Milton Keynes-based outfit at the end of 2020 after being pushed aside at Racing Point [now Aston Martin] for the arrival of Sebastian Vettel.

With his bedding in period now firmly in the past, could this be the year for Checo to become a world champion?

Perez's rookie Red Bull year a positive

For Perez, the first year alongside Max Verstappen was always going to be difficult.

The Dutchman was building towards a maiden championship challenge and had seen off Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon as team-mates in quick succession.

There was some good and some bad for Perez, with positives such as his victory in Azerbaijan often balanced by struggles for qualifying pace, leading to arduous drives through the field.

And whilst many will point out that the win in Baku was inherited after Verstappen's tyre failure in the closing stages, someone to pick up the pieces was the main criteria for Red Bull after Gasly and Albon's midfield struggles.

He was the perfect wingman at the end of the year as Verstappen defeated Lewis Hamilton for the drivers' title, but Perez wanted more.

2022 good, but not good enough

His second year with the team was much improved and despite retiring from the first race of the season in Bahrain on the final lap, Perez was well in the championship hunt early on.

A win at the Monaco Grand Prix thrust him into contention with team-mate Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

The Pirelli 18-inch tyres and the understeer which came with them seemingly helped Perez in relation to his rivals, but then as teams – especially Red Bull – developed around the limitations that came with the tyre and technical changes, his advantage was lost.

Reliability problems began to strike and by the time the schedule reached its midpoint, Perez was hanging onto his challenge as Verstappen streaked clear of the field.

Verstappen eventually clinched the title by 146 points over Leclerc, with Perez missing out on the runner-up spot in an Abu Dhabi showdown with the Monégasque.

But Perez's stunning win in the tricky wet-dry Singapore Grand Prix is proof enough that the raw talent is there.

Can Mexico celebrate a champion?

The question is not one of whether Perez could be a world champion, because it is clear he can. He has the talent and crucially, he has the equipment.

The question really comes down to whether Perez has the consistency to launch a bonafide championship challenge.

Much like Valtteri Bottas alongside Hamilton at Mercedes, there is plenty of proof that he can go toe-to-toe with his world champion team-mate. But for both Perez last year and the Finn across five years at the Silver Arrows, the issue was they couldn't keep that level of performance across the season.

Negatives for the new season will be the alterations to the Pirelli tyres that could remove some of the inherent understeer and negate Perez's skills to combat it – and of course, he still has Verstappen as his team-mate with the Dutchman in the form of his career.

How much can be made of the falling out between the pair in Brazil last term? There is always the prospect that the incident could spark something within Perez to take that leap he needs.

Undoubtedly, Perez can finish in the top two positions ahead of the both Ferraris and Mercedes.

But the championship, with Verstappen in identical machinery, is surely too far out of reach.

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