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Sergio Perez

The 'really important' factor Perez holds in Verstappen battle

With Sergio Perez cutting into Max Verstappen's championship lead following his victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the prospect of an intra-team title battle is on the table. Former F1 driver Damon Hill feels that Perez has a favourable characteristic for the fight.

Perez Verstappen Baku
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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Damon Hill believes that Sergio Perez has a level of resilience which could prove "really important" in his battle with Max Verstappen.

Perez cut into Verstappen's championship lead over the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend, having claimed victories in both the Sprint race and Sunday's Grand Prix.

The gap between the Red Bull drivers now stands at six points, and Hill is excited to see a potential intra-team title fight play out.

"We want to see Formula 1 going all the way through the season with a tight battle, and if we've only got two Red Bull drivers [in the battle], that's still good, isn't it?" Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast.

"We've seen some fantastic, titanic battles with dominant teams, but with the two drivers within those teams being the contenders, and so to see the gap close again after the Sprint weekend that we've had here in Baku, going forwards we can go to the next race thinking, 'Well, what's going to happen next?'

"I think it's a good thing."

Hill on Perez's prospects against Verstappen

When asked if Perez had proved in Baku that he has the measure of Verstappen, Hill explained: "Yeah, I mean, [in] Saudi [Arabia], I was surprised at how he managed to hold him at bay in that race, but one swallow doesn't make a summer.

"But he's done it again here. Okay, [he] got lucky with the Safety Car, Max would have been out there.

"Probably, if Max hadn't been unlucky with the Safety Car and was leading and [had] track position on Sergio, and there were two Red Bulls up there with Sergio second, I'm not sure that Sergio has got the strength to bring the fight to Max in a long-distance race, because they were very evenly matched.

"And I just think you could see that the guy behind was probably struggling more than the guy in front."

Hill: Perez has resilience

Verstappen has praised Perez following the Mexican's win in Azerbaijan but, in terms of whether the drivers can maintain a good relationship should a championship battle unfold between them, Hill believes that Perez's "resilience" is an important factor.

"[Max] gave Checo a hug [after the race], he gave him a big handshake and a hug," Hill added.

"I think there is respect there. But Checo's got the resilience – things bounce off him, he's got rhino skin. I think that's really important."

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 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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F1 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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