Perez title bid reality with Miami win

A Miami GP victory this weekend would catapult Sergio Perez into a firm F1 title contender

A Miami GP victory this weekend would catapult Sergio Perez into a firm F1 title contender

Sergio Perez will be firmly in the hunt for this year’s F1 title if can score his third grand prix victory of the season this weekend.

That is the verdict of 2009 champion Jenson Button who has been impressed with what he has seen so far from the Mexican driver.

Perez heads into the race in Miami just six points behind Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen following what was arguably the best weekend of his career in Azerbaijan a few days ago.

The 33-year-old triumphed in both the sprint and main event around the Baku Street Circuit, with the latter his fifth grand prix victory with Red Bull, all of which have been on street circuits.

Should Perez score back-to-back race wins in the space of a week, he would lead the championship for the first time in what is his 13th season in the sport.

“I am really impressed with Sergio,” said Button, who later this year heads to Le Mans as part of a four-driver line-up in NASCAR’s Garage 56 project.

“Max has to be the toughest team-mate because he just goes out there and gets it done in terms of his speed.

“But Perez did a really good job at the weekend with back-to-back wins, if you like, with the sprint and the main event. That will give him a lot of confidence.

“If he can pull out a win (in Miami), that would be a massive deal for him and would give him confidence for the season.”

Perez needs consistency

Button feels, however, Perez has displayed a lack of consistency over the years he now has to eradicate from his driving if he is to prove himself worthy of being a true title contender, and challenge Verstappen over the course of the year.

Last year, following his victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, Perez trailed the Dutch driver by 15 points, believing in himself then that he had a shot at the title, only to dramatically fall away as Verstappen took a stranglehold.

Perez was not helped by updates on the car that played into Verstappen’s hands and which veered away from his own strengths.

On this occasion, Perez and the RB19 have proven a strong combination.

If the consistency is there, Button feels he could challenge Verstappen for the remaining 19 races.

“We haven’t seen him throughout a season be as competitive as Max,” assessed Button. “Max is on it every weekend, whereas Checo has been a lot more up-and-down.

“It’s much more difficult to win a championship like that when you’re up against Max. The consistency is where Sergio has been lacking, to pull it out of the bag.

“But if he can do it in Miami, he has a chance to fight for the championship, and I didn’t think I’d be saying that. I really didn’t.

“But it’s great to see he’s got so much confidence in that car, and it’s good for the sport.

“We need it because Red Bull obviously has an advantage at the moment, so we need both of them to be fighting.

“And Max is also like ‘Fair play to Checo, he’s done a really good job”. So it adds to the title fight, and we need it this season.

“So come on Checo!”

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