Sergio Perez set Lewis Hamilton challenge as Max Verstappen leads title fight

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Formula One’s motorsports managing director Ross Brawn has urged Sergio Perez to apply extra pressure on Mercedes, specifically Lewis Hamilton, to help his team-mate Max Verstappen in the title fight.

Despite coming into the weekend with a stomach bug and a lack of hydration in the car due to a problem with his drinks dispenser, Perez battled through the United States Grand Prix to take third place at the Circuit of the Americas.

It was the Mexican second successive podium, and although Brawn labeled him “best of the rest,” the F1 chief added he could ramp it up a bit for the final five races.

“If he does that every weekend, Red Bull will be delighted,” said Brawn, writing in his column for Formula One. “It would have been nice if he could put a bit more pressure on Lewis, but those two were in a class of their own.”

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Verstappen holds a 12-point lead over Hamilton ahead of Mexico City next weekend, but with 133 points still up for grabs over the remainder of the season, the championship is poised to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.

The Dutchman held off a strong fightback from the seven-time world champion at COTA, with Hamilton on fresher tyres to the end of the race.

But the 24-year-old held his nerve and finished the job in America to take a maiden win at the Circuit of the Americas, a track that has heavily favoured Mercedes in the past.

When deciding his driver of the day, Brawn added: “Max edges this because of the pressure he came under from Lewis for an awful lot of the race.

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“He kept in touch with Lewis for the first part, after losing the lead at the first corner – and then controlled it from there, looking after his tyres beautifully.

“To not put a foot wrong in 56 laps was impressive.

“The Circuit of The Americas is a tricky track. The promoter has done a great job of smoothing it out in places, but it’s still a challenge and one where it’s so easy to make a mistake.

“I know from talking to those at Red Bull that they had pencilled this race in as a Mercedes track and one where they had to minimise their losses.

“That wasn’t the case – but it was close – as it has been all year. And maybe we’ll see the opposite play out in Mexico and Brazil, which are tracks that Red Bull might feel will move to them.

“This championship has still got an awful long way to go.”

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