Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Red Bull Racing’s Helmut Marko has sent a warning to Lewis Hamilton by claiming Sergio Perez is almost at Max Verstappen’s level. Verstappen has finally found an ideal teammate in Perez on his way to leading the 2021 World Drivers’ Championship.
Verstappen is currently 32 points ahead of Hamilton in the standings, whilst Red Bull lead Mercedes by 44 points in the Constructors’ field.
Red Bull’s decision to select Perez as one of their drivers for the 2021 season was out of the ordinary as they continued their search for Daniel Ricciardo’s successor.
It was the first time in years the Honda-powered team picked a driver who wasn’t part of their own training programme.
Red Bull’s decision has paid off so far, though, with Perez third in the standings with one win under his belt this season.
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Perez came in after Pierre Gasly seemingly couldn’t handle the pressure after six months, and Alex Albon failed to convince after a year-and-a-half.
Red Bull adviser Marko believes Perez is different, telling Motorsport-total.com there is more consistency with his results.
“The difference [from Verstappen’s other partners] is that Perez is more consistent,” Marko explained.
“The results he gets in qualifying, like second in Imola or third at the Red Bull Ring, Albon didn’t get those kind of results.
“And in the race, Perez is almost at the level of Verstappen when he has the free air.”
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Marko also doesn’t blame Perez for his struggles in the Austrian Grand Prix, where he slumped to a sixth-place finish.
His main problem arose after a botched overtake of Lando Norris, which Marko claims was the young Brit’s fault.
He said: “I think it’s logical. If you can’t get in front, then you try on the outside.
“That’s where Norris pushed him off the track, and he got a penalty for that as well.’
”That’s what went wrong. Drivers have to give each other space. That was a mistake by Norris.
“He saw Perez there and should have given him space. Perez tried, but it failed. I prefer that to a boring driver who stays behind. He had to try.”
Hamilton already has a world title-threatening challenge from Verstappen after years of dominating Formula One.
It won’t be good news to hear another Red Bull driver is nearing that level.
He’ll look to get back in the wins this weekend as Silverstone hosts the British Grand Prix.
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