"You need to be realistic," Hakkinen warns Perez


Two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen has warned Sergio Perez that he needs to be "realistic" and accept that he cannot beat his teammate, Max Verstappen.

With the new season just days away, we move into what was once called David Coulthard territory, that time of the year when drivers defiantly proclaim that 'this is my year', just as they did twelve months earlier and will do so again come 2024.

In the case of Sergio Perez, whose relationship with his teammate ended on a somewhat fractious note last year, two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen has warned the Mexican to accept the inevitable, the fact that he just cannot beat him.

"Max is a very strong driver, that's obvious," the Finn tells Unibet. "He always has been. He's worked hard to become the driver he is today.

"Is there currently someone faster than him on the track? I doubt it. I don't think there is," he continued. "The championships have reinforced his self-confidence. He knows better how to prepare for the season. He's still young. The team knows what he can do, the team believes in him one hundred per cent. His talent will further develop, it won't go backwards, it develops.

"Now it only comes down to one thing, if the team fails in their technical development, making the car unreliable and not being able to score points. That's when the other teams can get the upper hand. That's the only thing stopping them."

Referring to Perez, who was the dutiful teammate in 2021, but clearly wanted to step out of the Dutchman last year, leading a simmering dispute that finally boiled over in Brazil, Hakkinen said: "Perez is a good team-mate. He's allowed to be the naughty one. He seems to be very obedient.

"What I mean by being naughty is that sometimes the team asks him to do things, such as slowing others down," he added. "Sergio doesn't care. He'll slow them down, if the team wants. Whether it's the qualifying or the race, he'll do what he's asked to do. I think it's dirty, but if it works, it works.

"It's a question of one's image, though. But that's how it goes sometimes. You won't get that far unless you think you're fast. But when you have a team-mate like Max, you need to be realistic and look in the mirror. You need to admit you can't beat Max.

"It takes something almost supernatural to beat Max. Perez will be second, there's no question about it."

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Published: 01/03/2023
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