F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Sergio Perez signed a new contract at Red Bull on Friday, keeping him at the Milton Keynes-based outfit until the end of the 2022 season. Commenting after the deal was announced, Perez discussed his own title aspirations for the season in a thinly-veiled threat to both his team-mate Max Verstappen and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who has been keen to tie down the Mexican throughout the discussions around Red Bull’s lineup for next year, was clearly delighted by the news and outlined how he thought Perez could help the team with the new car regulations coming into force.
Horner said: “Checo [Perez’s nickname] is a highly respected Team member and his experience and race-craft are invaluable as we fight for the Constructors’ Championship.
“His integration into the wider Team has been seamless and we have been impressed by his performances during the first half of the season which demonstrate what he’s capable of in our car.
“Next year we move into a new era of Formula One with completely revised regulations and cars, and with over 200 races and a decade of experience under his belt, Checo will play an integral role in helping the Team navigate this transition and maximise the RB18.
“Our current attention is on ending the 2021 season as strongly as possible and we look forward to seeing Checo build on a first successful season with the Team.”
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Perez himself expressed his happiness at remaining in his current seat- and was unambiguous with regards to his ultimate ambition to compete for a world title. Perez’s current role as something of a number two to Max Verstappen was reportedly something of a block in the contract negotiations between team and driver.
Perez said: “I’m really happy to be continuing with a great team like Red Bull into the new era of Formula One and it’s a great opportunity for me. Everyone starts from zero next year with the new regulations, so my only goal is to go all the way to the top with Red Bull.
“It always takes time to get on top of everything when you join a new team but things have worked well this season and I really enjoy being a part of the Red Bull family.
“We’ve been working hard to deliver results so it’s great to see the Team have faith in me for the future.
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“We have so much more to achieve together and we still have a great challenge on our hands this season so I really hope we can finish the year on a high and carry that momentum into 2022.
“I want to thank all my supporters around the world and especially those in Mexico.
“From my sponsors to my fans, they have been so enthusiastic since I joined Red Bull so I really hope we can reward them by reaching the top and winning the title.”
Perez’s words no doubt come as an inadvertent warning to his Dutch partner as he looks to establish that he is not there solely in a support position.
Perez has enjoyed a relatively successful start to his career at Red Bull in 2021. He out-qualified Verstappen in the second race of the season, and picked up the second win of his career at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June.
Overall, Perez currently sits fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, behind Hamilton, Verstappen, Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas.
Perez finished with the sixth fastest lap time during first practice at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas came ahead of the rest of the field during that session.
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