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Sergio Perez

The hidden message sent by Perez to Verstappen in Miami battle

Max Verstappen's overtake for the win in the closing stages of the Miami Grand Prix was a formality, but Sergio Perez sent an important message in this year's title battle.

Perez Verstappen Miami
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Max Verstappen underlined his intentions to secure a third F1 World Championship with a scintillating performance at the Miami Grand Prix.

The Dutchman fought back from ninth on the grid to take victory over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to dent the Mexican's optimism of a title challenge, following his Sprint-and-Grand-Prix double in Azerbaijan a week previous.

Whilst the style in which Verstappen emerged with the win in the United States perhaps signals that there will be no championship battle between the two Red Bulls, Perez left an important marker during the race to prove he will not roll over for the 38-time race winner.

Won't back down

Perez will be disappointed to have been overhauled by Verstappen relatively easily given he started eight positions ahead with clean air from the start, racing unchallenged by Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso.

Whilst it seemed as though the race would entertain an exciting crescendo, with Verstappen forced to chase down Perez on a fresh set of tyres, the unwavering pace shown by the two-time champion ensured that prospect lasted a matter of laps after his eventual stop.

On his first flying lap out of the pits, Verstappen cut the gap at the front by over a second. It was an ominous display of power that foreshadowed a simple overtake on his teammate.

But that's not how the move worked out. Perez – to his credit – put up a stern defence of the position. He blocked into Turn 17 and, even when Verstappen had DRS assistance into Turn 1, the former Sauber, McLaren and Racing Point driver was stubborn on the inside.

There's no doubt Perez remained well within the limits of his ability – Verstappen's pass was a formality due to his tyre advantage and the last thing Red Bull would have wanted to have seen was a collision when in a comfortable 1-2 formation.

But what Perez did prove is that he wasn't one to back down.

Rosberg tactics?

The message sent by Perez to the opposite side of the Red Bull garage may not be as extreme as that delivered by Nico Rosberg to Lewis Hamilton in 2016 – notably the pair's final lap crash in Austria where the German drew his battle lines en route to his title triumph – but the desired effect is the same.

When the duo fell out at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last season over Verstappen's refusal to follow team orders, a change in Perez's attitude became clear to see. Whilst Team Principal Christian Horner insists any tension has been cleared up, it would be remiss to believe that to be the case.

It could be a crucial show of the hand for Perez given the spotlight was on how his advantage over Verstappen at the start of the race was so easily overturned. The subtle message portrayed is an indication of his attitude towards this title fight and suggests a fire could be ignited in battle later in the campaign.

Also interesting:

Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Miami Grand Prix.

F1 2023 Miami Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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