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Former F1 champion feels Max Verstappen has Sergio Perez 'to thank for' Baku win

Max Verstappen (left) and Sergio Perez (right) celebrate on the podium during the 2022 F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen (left) and Sergio Perez (right) celebrate on the podium during the 2022 F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Mika Hakkinen believes Sergio Perez is the reason behind Max Verstappen’s success in Baku. The former world champion believes the Mexican driver has delivered as a team player to aid Verstappen this season.

Writing in his biog on Unibet, the former McLaren F1 driver said:

“Checo [Sergio Perez] is doing a really fantastic job of supporting Max [Verstappen] at Red Bull. After his win in Monaco, he came to Baku and was quickest in two of the practice sessions, and ahead of Max in all of them. To then qualify second behind Charles [Leclerc] and take the lead at the start shows just how much confidence Checo has in himself and the car.”

Praising Perez for playing a supporting role and co-operating with the team,Hakkinen felt the Mexican beating Charles Leclerc off the starting line was a strong reason behind Max Verstappen winning the Azerbaijan GP. The Finn feels Perez was stronger in practice sessions and qualifying sessions, which reflects the confidence he has in the car in comparison to the Dutchman.

Summarising his views on both Ferrari and Red Bull in Baku, Hakkinen wrote:

“Max has Checo to thank for the win, in my opinion, not only in accepting the team’s strategy but also in having a five-second pit-stop at a key moment in the race. Red Bull really does have the benefit of two strong winners in their team, while Ferrari are suffering with Carlos Sainz having a lot of poor luck as well as being unable to match the pace of Charles.”

Max Verstappen wants more performance from Red Bull on Saturdays

Max Verstappen believes that he needs a build-up of performances over the weekend to perform flawlessly. Evaluating Red Bull’s performance, the reigning world champion feels he is more confident with his car in the race than on Friday or Saturday during qualifying.

Speaking at the drivers' press conference after the Azerbaijan GP, Verstappen summarised his views on the car's performance, saying:

“I think every single weekend is a bit different. But yeah, we know, I think, with the car performance on Saturday we are not as quick as Ferrari for whatever reason. Maybe it helps us on a race day, who knows? But I also want a bit more performance, just for myself on a Saturday, just with the feeling of the car as well. But on a Sunday, in general, it always feels a bit better. But yeah, there is still, of course, enough work to do to try and improve the car. But I guess everyone has the same thing. But again, it was a very good day for us today. It’s still a very young and new car so we will always look to improve. And at the moment, it looks like Saturdays is the biggest room for improvement.”
That was a good race!! 🤩💪We had incredible pace today 🔥 To have another maximum team score makes it a really good day for us @redbullracing 💪It was a challenging weekend for us here in Baku, so to win this one feels absolutely great 👊#KeepPushing #AzerbaijanGP https://t.co/YBPzflheJ0

The reigning champion currently tops the drivers’ championship, with a 21-point lead over Perez and a 34-point lead over Leclerc.

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Edited by Anurag C
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