Ahead of one of the toughest tests of his F1 career, Sergio Perez says he has "nothing to lose" as he prepares to take on the sport's 'breaker of spirits'.
While the debate on whether Red Bull was wrong to allow Carlos Sainz to slip through its fingers continues, the fact is that former Toro Rosso teammate, Max Verstappen has earned a somewhat fearsome reputation since, seeing off, and compromising the career paths, of the likes of Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon.
Next up into F1's lion's den is Sergio Perez, however the Mexican, who looked to be watching the 2021 season from the sidelines until he was recruited by Red Bull, insists that Verstappen holds no fear for him and, as he is already in the Autumn of his career, has nothing to lose in going head-to-head with the Dutch youngster.
"Since I knew I was coming to Red Bull, I knew I was going to be facing a big challenge in Max, he's a very complete driver," the Mexican tells the official F1 website's Beyond the Grid podcast.
"He is a very strong driver all round and that's going to be a big challenge on myself," he admits. "It's what I wanted, I want to measure myself against the best in the sport, it's a great challenge and a great opportunity that I'm looking so much forward to.
"The way I see it is that I've got nothing to lose in my career," he continues, "I've been lucky enough to have a fantastic career, whatever comes next is great."
Reflecting on the first head-to-head, testing in which the Mexican's best time was 1.227 off his teammate's pace, on the same compound, he said: "Conditions have been so different in these couple of days for both of us, I haven't seen enough.
"He's driven the track which is 10 to 15 degrees cooler at times and vice versa, with the wind changing. I think in the first three or four races I will know more.
"He is just a very chilled guy," he said of Verstappen, "there is no political things going on around him, he just enjoys driving. We've had good fun in the few times we've spent together."