Sergio Perez says nobody could come into Red Bull and match Max Verstappen in the same car straight away, after his teammate’s record-breaking 14th win of the season in Mexico.
Verstappen has won eight of the past nine races with Perez winning the other as the Dutchman wrapped up his second drivers’ championship and Red Bull securing the constructors’ title.
Perez is going for second place in the drivers’ standings but Verstappen’s win in Mexico City led to him setting a new record for wins and points in a season, and Perez says it takes time to try and get to his team-mate’s level.
“It’s a great challenge to be his teammate,” he said. “Max is operating at a very high level from FP1 through the whole weekend so just had a little learning and trying to beat him and trying to do the stuff he is doing. So it’s obviously not an easy task.
“I don’t believe there’s anyone that can come and just beat him straightaway. He’s very solid with the team. He’s been here a while so I think I’m just getting closer and closer through the year so I will give another shot for next year and see what happens.”
Now five points clear of Charles Leclerc in a tight battle for second overall, Perez says he feels it’s his Sunday performances that need to improve in order to give Verstappen a harder time.
“It can change, race-to-race. For now, I just want to go into the next two and aim for the win. There’s nothing more to lose, so we will try everything. It’s been a very difficult weekend with far too many issues, so we need to put everything together and then I believe we can do the next step.
“I think the lesson from this year is that it’s been a great year as a team (but) I do need to step up a bit my race pace, mainly. Where last year was more the qualifying, I think. With these cars, you are able to race a lot closer, so I think we need to step up that race pace.
“The understanding with the team, with the car, I think that has come better in the last few races. So, I believe we are heading on the right track.”