Max Verstappen will head to the Australia Grand Prix neck and neck with Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez, after spending the majority of the Jeddah race playing catch-up. Verstappen’s power problems during qualifying resulted in a starting position of 15th, but his efforts in the race were impressive as he quickly began to work his way through the pack. Ultimately, however, he had to settle for second behind Perez, who had been gifted pole position. With both drivers now having one win each and just one point separating them in the standings, the stage is set for an intense battle.
Former Formula One World Champion, Damon Hill, has weighed in on the subject, predicting that Perez will provide more of a challenge to Verstappen in the forthcoming season than he was able to offer in the past. “Checo knows what he’s up against, but he’s not going to go down without a fight. It could be quite interesting,” said Hill. He believes that Verstappen and his team will need to work hard on and off the track in order to maintain their championship aspirations. “Max is a bit of a force of nature, and it’s how much pressure he can put on the team to make sure his championship aspirations are not interfered with by Checo,” said Hill. “From the point of view of the sport, I think that they need to let Checo have every opportunity to fight with a level playing field within that team.”
For Hill, Perez‘s ability to settle into the Red Bull team gives him an advantage that previous teammates of Verstappen at the team — such as Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon — did not have. “Checo has got people in his corner and we’ll see how it plays out,” said Hill. Whatever happens, however, Hill believes that the Verstappen camp will be putting as much pressure on the team as possible to further their championship chances. “They don’t like coming second,” he added.
In summary, the upcoming season promises to be a competitive one, both on and off the track, with Hill’s predictions adding further intrigue.