Sergio Perez is far from backing out of the 2023 Formula 1 world championship fight. But he has to climb a huge mountain given the remaining schedule.
Sergio Perez’s second place at the Miami Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome was portrayed as a huge disappointment, considering he lost to his teammate and Formula 1 world championship leader Max Verstappen after Verstappen started eight positions behind him in ninth place.
It was one of the few races that Perez came in as the clear favourite to capture the checkered flag and had no answer for his teammate, who actually managed to gain time on the hard tires that were 20 laps older than the ones Perez put on during the pit stop.
Had Perez won the 57-lap race around the 19-corner, 5,412-mile temporary street circuit around Hard Rock Stadium, he would have taken the championship lead for the first time in his career. Instead, he leads Verstappen by 14 points.
A 14-point deficit in Formula 1 is not insurmountable. It can turn into the lead in one race.
The fight for the championship is far from over. But the toughest test for the 32-year-old Mexican is ahead of him.
Perez was hailed as the “King of the Street” after his victory in Baku, taking him to three wins in his last four street races. But four of the seven street races of the 2023 season are already in the books, meaning 14 of the remaining 17 events will take place on road circuits.
Verstappen has won 10 of the last 11 road races, including eight in a row at some point last year. Meanwhile, Perez has yet to win a road race as a Red Bull driver.
To be able to fight for the world championship, there is no getting around the fact that Perez needs to change that on a grand scale.
He will probably need a lot of wins on the road circuit, and he will probably need at least one back-to-back win, something he has yet to do in his Formula 1 career. In fact, Verstappen has more consecutive wins than Perez has total wins.
This is what makes Perez’s loss in Miami such a crushing blow, even compared to Red Bull’s other 1-2 finishes with Verstappen in the lead.
It was a perfect storm: pole position, Verstappen 9th, street race, points up for grabs. Instead, Verstappen actually emerged from the season’s first four street circuit weekends with more points than Perez (94 to 87) – and some of his best circuits are still on the calendar.
Of course, Perez should not be discounted. If he manages to finish second in races he doesn’t win, he shouldn’t be too far behind to take advantage when things don’t go Verstappen’s way.
But Verstappen proved in Miami that he is still the favorite for the title, and Perez will need much more than a win here and there to change that. On road courses, this becomes an extra challenge.
Sixth race of the season was to be a road race at Imola where Verstappen drove Red Bull for the first time since April 2016 with a 1-2. The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix was scheduled to take place on Sunday May 21 before it was canceled due to flooding.
As a result, the sixth race of the season is scheduled to take place at the Circuit de Monaco on Sunday, May 28. Perez won the Monaco Grand Prix last year and Verstappen won it in 2021. The race is scheduled to be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 9:00 a.m. EST. start FuboTV free trial and don’t miss it!