Four races into the 2023 Formula 1 season and both Red Bull drivers had two wins each.
The Miami GP entered with a minuscule six-point difference in favour of Verstappen. There was talk of a two-way battle, but Verstappen believes the start of the 2023 season should be put into perspective.
"You have to paint the whole picture. I had to start from 15th place in Saudi Arabia," Verstappen told Auto Motor und Sport.
"In Baku, I was lightly penalized by the safety car. So from my point of view, it's not quite fair to talk about a level playing field. Because that's not how I saw it.
"You have to take into account all the circumstances that led to it. That has somewhat distorted the impression."
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Verstappen: I'm not interested in others opinions
Once they reached the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Verstappen became more and more familiar with the RB19.
"It's different settings that have to come together. A few things you can adjust through the steering wheel: Brake balance, differential, engine braking," he explained.
"The new tires also work a little differently. Dealing with them, deploying them a little bit differently, seemed to help me get more out of the car."
This set the Dutchman up on a run of 10 race wins in a row, which would eventually be broken by Carlos Sainz at the Singapore Grand Prix in October.
By this point a lot of people wrote off Perez, but what does Verstappen think? "I'm not interested in other people's opinions. They don't know our car. I just try to get the best out of it. And I do that every time. I don't know how dominant this car is compared to previous cars. Nobody knows that.
"I tune the car the way I like it. And the other driver tunes it to his needs. The engineers develop the car to make it faster. And not how I would like it.
"The same goes for the driving style. What is my driving style? I don't know. I adapt to the needs of the car to make it the fastest. That's the key to being a really good Formula 1 driver. Adapting to what you get from the team."