According to Sergio Perez’s father, the battle for the championship between his son and Max Verstappen evokes memories of Formula 1’s historic rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
With Red Bull showcasing their superiority, the 2023 Drivers’ Championship appears to be a direct duel between Perez and Verstappen. The duo has triumphed in all five races of the season thus far, with Verstappen securing three victories compared to Perez’s two.
Prost and Senna, teammates at the dominant McLaren team in the late 1980s, experienced a similarly intense rivalry. Senna claimed the 1988 title, while Prost emerged victorious the following year. However, their relationship deteriorated significantly in 1989, leading to a controversial collision between them during the second-to-last race in Japan.
“You have to remember when McLaren had Senna and Prost,” Antonio Perez told Mexican outlet Esto.
“This is the same thing. Today we are living it again.
“They are two tigers in the same cage. They both think the same, have the same breakfast, eat the same.
“You see they both try to take fastest lap from one another. In qualifying they want the pole; they want to be fastest in practice.”
Although Verstappen has been associated with Red Bull since before his Formula 1 debut in 2015, Perez joined the team in 2021 after being released by Racing Point.
Throughout their tenure as teammates, Verstappen has consistently held a significant advantage over Perez. However, Perez’s father, Antonio Perez, acknowledged that Verstappen’s longer tenure with Red Bull has provided him with an edge.
Antonio Perez further expressed his belief that if his son had been afforded the same opportunities in Formula 1 as Verstappen, Perez would have already secured a World Championship title.
“[Verstappen is] more settled in,” Antonio Perez said.
“You have to remember how long Max had been with the team.
“Checo can now walk at Max’s pace. I still feel that between Max and Checo there are a few thousandths in favour of Max, and in the difficult tracks I see them very even.
“Every morning, [Checo] knows that he is in a team that is in first place and that second is the first loser.
“[Before Red Bull], when he finished 10th, it was amazing, but if Checo had had this opportunity from the beginning as other young drivers have had, he would already be World Champion several times, I have no doubt.
“And I believe we will have Checo Perez here for the next 10 years and I see him as World Champion.”