‘Max Verstappen vs Sergio Perez reminds me of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton’

·3-min read
Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, neither happy. Bahrain March 2023 Credit: Alamy
Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, neither happy. Bahrain March 2023 Credit: Alamy

Max Verstappen’s battle with Sergio Perez has been likened to that of Nico Rosberg v Lewis Hamilton by one Sky Sports F1 pundit.

Rosberg v Hamilton, dubbed the ‘Silver Arrows War’, developed into one of the most bitter intra-team rivalries of the modern F1 era.

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The two, who raced together during their karting days, forgot any former friendships as they fought for supremacy both of Mercedes and the World Championship.

In their four seasons together, they won three Drivers’ Championships (two for Hamilton, one for Rosberg) and team boss Toto Wolff later admitted he was on the brink of dropping both drivers if the tension continued.

Thankfully for Wolff, he avoided that situation when Rosberg left the sport in 2016 but that team-mate rivalry has been brought back into the spotlight following Verstappen and Perez’s recent exploits.

While Verstappen and Perez were not childhood friends, the situation is very similar aside from that. They are in a dominant car meaning it is likely only one of those two that will win the title, one driver is a World Champion while the other is aiming for their maiden title and one driver is universally accepted as more talented than the other.

It is a comparison that Sky Sports F1 pundit Natalie Pinkham can spot as revealed on the broadcaster’s podcast.

“I believe [Perez] has stepped it up,” she said. “I don’t believe it will be enough. This car does seem better suited to him and I think Saturday [in Miami] was a surprise for him that he was on pole.

“I think it’s going to be very frustrating for Sergio because he has to be at his very best week in, week out. Whereas Max, even an A- is enough for Max to win a race.

“It reminds me a lot of Rosberg and Lewis, I think he’s going to have to find something else. He is going to have to find a weakness in Max that he can exploit in order to beat him. Max is very much in the driving seat.

“There’s no shame in that though. Rosberg, fair play to him, worked very hard, which is one of the reasons why he retired. It took so much out of him to win that one world championship and if Perez can take the world title then you know he’ll have earned it.”

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Fellow Sky Sports pundit and former F1 driver Martin Brundle was of a similar school of thought, suggesting Verstappen “will have an answer all day, every day.”

“I think over a season, I think we all know that Max will turn up all day, every day,” Brundle said.

“If you look at the points last year because of Max’s unreliability issues in the early part of the season and then where it ended up.

“By the end of the season, I just think Max will have an answer all day, every day. But if you don’t win, you must finish second because when you’ve got a dominant car, you can’t afford to miss the second places because you’re struggling to play catch up at that point.

“Sergio is doing a great job. He’s raised his game, he seems to work with this car better, but we are in a dominant Max Verstappen phase.”

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