Lewis Hamilton has insisted Sergio Perez should “easily” finish second in the Drivers' Championship this year.
Red Bull has dominated the season by winning 16 out of the 17 races staged so far, with Perez accounting for two of those victories as well as the Azerbaijan Sprint.
But the Mexican has endured a difficult campaign following his strong start and has scored just five points at the last three races, all riddled with mistakes and incident.
His disappointing run has left him in danger of slipping behind Hamilton in the Drivers' standings with the gap between the pair just 30 points with five races remaining.
Hamilton, who has finished as the championship runner-up on three occasions, has not won a race this season as Mercedes has continued to compete off the front-running pace.
The seven-time World Champion's consistency has gifted him the chance to finish in second place - but he asserted that it is squarely down to the performance of Perez.
“I mean, it's ultimately largely dependent on Checo’s performance moving forward as he should easily have second,” Hamilton told media including RacingNews365.com.
“I’m really proud of where we are, where I've managed to get to, I've been really proud of the race performances so far.”
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Hamilton prioritising team fight
Although the runner-up spot in the Drivers' standings is on the cards for Hamilton, the 38-year-old has said he is prioritising the team's push in the Constructors' Championship.
Mercedes currently sit second in the standings, 28 points in front of Ferrari - the only team to defeat Red Bull this year.
Finishing second would be a welcome boost to Mercedes, who slipped to third in last year's championship.
“Of course I want to try and do better and do more,” Hamilton added.
“If we were able to get second [in the Drivers' Championship] that would be amazing, but the main focus is really trying to get second for the team.”