Damon Hill has claimed that Sergio Perez "won't be pushed around" at Red Bull as he challenges for the Formula 1 World Championship.
Given Red Bull's strong pace advantage over the field in 2023, some believe the title is already destined to be won by either Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez.
Both have a win and a second place apiece in the new season, with Verstappen leading by one point, by dint of fastest lap on the last lap in his P2 run in Jeddah.
And 1996 champion Hill believes that Perez has shown the mentality needed to cope with the pressure.
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Hill on Perez
"It's simply that there's key people in the team, and sometimes the attention is not equally distributed from one side of the garage to the other," he explained on the F1 Nation podcast.
"There is so much investment in Max as an individual, who is going to be the way that this team can fight for championships for very, very, very many years that naturally you think the attention is going to go to Max and less so with Checo.
"But Checo has stepped up to the plate.
"He has shown he's not going to be pushed around and he's also not going to be pointed out as the weakest link."
The former Williams and Jordan racer also explained how he had been keeping an eye on Perez for over a decade, since his first standout moment at a wet 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix when he challenged Fernando Alonso for the win.
"I've always been impressed with Checo from that race in Malaysia in the Sauber," he explained.
"[It was] his first podium and I remember thinking: 'This guy is good' and I've watched him throughout his career and I kept on saying 'Why does nobody give this guy a break?'"
Perez was signed by McLaren as replacement for Lewis Hamilton in 2013, but lasted a single season at Woking before they promoted junior driver Kevin Magunssen for '14.
Perez moved across to Force India, staying there until the end of 2020, when the team then badged as Racing Point signed Sebastian Vettel for '21.
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