Sergio Perez is optimistic about challenging Max Verstappen for the 2024 F1 title, despite a largely difficult season.

There’s been no shortage of headlines about Sergio Perez during the 2023 season. From praise of his early race victories to concerns about his Red Bull future, the past twelve months have been eventful for the Mexican driver.

Generally speaking, uncertainty has followed the 6-time race winner throughout this year’s campaign. Despite an encouraging start to the year, he soon found himself unable to stop Verstappen from claiming victory after victory.

To make things worse, Daniel Ricciardo returned to Formula 1 with AlphaTauri. This presented Red Bull with a clear alternative to evaluate, increasing the pressure on Perez to perform and rectify his form.

The Mexican driver was only partly successful in changing the narrative. Though he managed to secure P2 in the standings, this was largely thanks to Aston Martin’s mid-season slump, which ended Fernando Alonso’s regular podium appearances.

Perez aims for the title

In any case, with speculation about Red Bull’s 2024 driver line-up decided, Sergio Perez is clear about his aim in the standings:

“[To finish] One better! I think we need better pace, better consistency,” he told Sky Sports after the season finale.

“I think we went through a bit of a rollercoaster this year – next year, we have a new opportunity. 

“To be honest, I felt like I was not totally at one with the car. I hope that next year will be a lot better, a lot stronger. 

“We came back towards the end of the year.”

Of course, almost any Formula 1 driver in the fastest team will aim to win the Championship. In this sense, Perez’s comments are quite standard and uncontroversial.

For next season, the priority shouldn’t be for Perez to establish himself as a title contender. As demonstrated this season, many fall into the trap of pre-emptively celebrating a driver’s success. The first months of 2024 will set the tone in another sense.

Although Daniel Ricciardo’s comeback was a big talking point this year, his injury in Zandvoort ruined his momentum. Combined with an AlphaTauri that could only score strong points in the last few rounds, the Australian faced an uphill battle to earn a promotion.

Circumstances will change next season. As AlphaTauri work more closely with Red Bull (and with Yuki Tsunoda steadily progressing), there will be far greater pressure on the 33-year-old. It will be imperative for Perez to acclimatise to the RB20 as quickly as possible, or else he risks being under the spotlight almost immediately.

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