Damon Hill believes the Formula 1 lessons Sergio Perez learnt at McLaren will help him not to be "crushed" racing Max Verstappen at Red Bull.
Perez was drafted in at McLaren in 2013 to replace Lewis Hamilton in just his third season, but only stayed for one season at Woking as the team began its decline from frontrunner to the midfield.
There were doubts about Perez's mindset during his season alongside Jenson Button, but 1996 World Champion Hill believes the Mexican was misunderstood in that campaign - and the lessons learnt will help him possibly fight for the title - given Red Bull's extreme pace advantage in 2023.
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Hill praises Perez
"The very sad fact is that I think he was wrongly interpreted," Hill explained on the F1 Nation podcast.
"I think his laid back, relaxed style was interpreted by that team as different and not trying hard, but I think that's a mistake.
"They decided he wasn't a good fit for their mindset, for what they wanted, and it went wrong from there.
"And he's clawed his way back, and he's got himself into a place here, in a team like Red Bull, and he's tough enough to cope with the pressure that you get in a team like Red Bull.
"I won't say it is water off a duck's back, but if he was a younger driver, as we've seen in Red Bull, younger drivers get crushed by that environment, and he's not going to get crushed."
A Perez title challenge?
Hill also evaluated Perez's chances of being allowed to challenge Verstappen for the title by bosses Christian Horner and Helmut Marko.
While he believes an open fight would be allowed, he doesn't think Perez would come out on top.
"I'm sure they will allow it," he said of Horner and Marko.
"But I think they will prefer Max to win, and I think Max will ultimately prevail.
"I just don't think that Checo has the ultimate speed and ruthlessness that Max does."
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