Double Formula 1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi believes that Sergio Perez’s current sparkling form is cause for concern for Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen; the Brazilian also predicts that the pair will be difficult to beat this weekend at the Miami Grand Prix.
Only six points separate the pair at the top of the 2023 F1 drivers’ standings, they have all but dominated the opening four rounds of the 2023 F1 Word Championship, and although Verstappen leads by virtue of Perez’s Sprint Race victory in Baku, if you count that, Checo has won thrice and Max only twice so far this season.
In Azerbaijan last Sunday, Verstappen and Perez again dominated, but when Verstappen’s ill-timed pitstop handed Perez the lead, the Mexican veteran, stubbornly, was never caught again on the day no matter what his World Champion teammate could muster in an intriguing lap-by-lap duel, amid a dullish race. Much like Jeddah, this was unique in that Verstappen had no answer to the King of the Streets.
With another city circuit this weekend and the crown jewel of F1 – Monte Carlo – a couple of races thereafter, Fittipaldi said of the RBR ‘civil war’: “We’re in Miami and soon we’ll be in Monaco – two tracks that Checo could be very fast. There will be a lot of competition between Max and Checo in Miami. Checo has a good chance to win. If he wins again, he’ll make Max very concerned. Max will think that he’s there and he’s very strong. It will be very interesting.”
Perez has even impressed RBR driver chief, Helmut Marko, who praised his driver claiming him to be a changed man since he entered the Bull-pen, and records show he is by far the most effective F1 teammate Verstappen has been paired with; or, at least, one that can beat him on occasions.
Emmo: They’re really working hard and Checo did a fantastic job
Fittipaldi ventured: “I’m sure Max is starting to get worried. It showed in Baku, to me, the last 20 laps, that Checo was really driving it to the limit as well as Max. And Max could not reduce the gap. They’re really working hard and Checo did a fantastic job. Very difficult track. You’re only a few centimetres from the wall on just about every corner. You have to be very precise and confident and Checo proved that,” said Fittipaldi in his latest F1 column for MyBettingSites.co.uk.
Behind the fighting Red Bulls, pleasantly surprising is that Aston Martin have raised their game considerably with Fernando Alonso emerging as the darling of the 2023 season with his “El PLan” and a string of solid performances that has the Spaniard closer to win #33 than he has been for several years in the top flight.
The Big Guns who have not fired this season – Ferrari and Mercedes – are still seeking chunks of pace to close the gap to the mighty RB18, used to such great effect. Fittipaldi’s thoughts: “In Miami, the edge is definitely with Red Bull in my opinion. Miami has some fast sectors and some slow sectors. In both situations, as grip and balance are concerned, Aston Martin could be second best.
“Ferrari will run strong for qualifying. I don’t know if they can solve their tire degradation faster than other teams but they will be fast. They are getting better, they did a good job but they don’t yet have the same durability for the tyres. When the tyres get old, they cannot keep up with Red Bull and even Aston Martin,” explained the 76-year-old Brazilian great; Fittipaldi has 14 Grand Prix wins on his CV, and two F1 world titles in 1972 and 1974.