Red Bull have ‘problem on their hands’ as Sergio Perez looks to dethrone Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez extends contract with Red Bull Racing until 2024

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Red Bull have a serious ‘problem on their hands’ as Sergio Perez is ‘getting closer’ to Max Verstappen, says Damon Hill. The 1996 champion has warned both drivers want to be world champion which could force Red Bull to manage an inter-team battle.

Hill said: “In the Red Bull team, any team that’s got two cars in contention has a problem on its hands. It’s a nice problem to have but they both want to be world champion.

“He’s already been world champion once, he’s never been world champion. That’s such a massive thing for a driver.

“Think about Sergio, years in the wilderness. Now here he is, in contention. You’d be forgiven for thinking he’s leading the world championship, he’s not, his teammate is leading the world championship but he’s getting closer all the time.”

Perez has starred since signing a new two-year contract extension, picking up his third career win last time out at the Monaco Grand Prix. The Mexican has also beat his reigning world champion team-mate in every session ahead of qualifying this weekend at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as he aims to secure back-to-back wins.

Perez now lies just 15 points behind Verstappen and this could be cut to eight by the end of the weekend. Team principal Christian Horner has also warned Perez is a ‘lot closer’ to Verstappen on pure pace this season.

The Red Bull boss has also clarified that the Mexican can still fight for the world championship on equal footing with Verstappen.

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There were fears the team would prioritise Verstappen after Perez was asked to let the Dutchman through in Spain. However, Horner stressed ahead of Baku that this was not the case

He said: “It doesn’t matter to us which of the two is world champion. Of course, the constructors’ is enormously important. But whether it’s Max or Checo, they’re both Red Bull drivers, and they’ve both got the same chance.

“Of course, it’s a long, long season, and it will have its ebbs and flows. But it’s great to have both drivers right at the sharp end. Checo is in the form of his career, he’s doing a great job. And it’s not a one-off. I mean, we saw his pole position in Jeddah. And he’s really hitting a rich vein of form.”

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