Perez out to upset Lewis Hamilton’s title bid with help of manic Mexican crowd

The Mexican has won only one race all season but is on a run of consecutive podium finishes as Verstappen fights Lewis Hamilton for the Formula One crown, and Red Bull also go head-to-head with Mercedes for the Constructors’ Championship.

Pushing back against the Mercs’ 23-point lead in Mexico City could see him take a decisive step towards a first title and realise a dream for Perez, who has never finished higher than seventh at home – but now has a winning car.

“It’s just great to finally have a team and a car that we can dream of a victory in my home country,” he said.

“We have a chance to make a big result happen this weekend, so I will prepare as well as I can and we will see what we are able to achieve.”

Team player Perez knows, however, that something will have had to go awry for Verstappen for him to be in with a shout of winning the race himself, given the tight championship battle and importance of every point.

Verstappen won the last round in Austin, something of a Mercedes stronghold over the years, with Perez finishing third.

Both Hamilton and Verstappen have won twice in Mexico, the Brit most recently in 2019 with the 2020 race cancelled due to the pandemic.

“It’s incredibly important for myself and the team to try and nail the next three races now that we are fighting for the championship,” Verstappen said.

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The pair are the only drivers on the current grid to have tasted victory in Mexico, whose race returned to the calendar in 2015.

“Red Bull have gone well there in the past and it hasn’t been our strongest circuit,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff of the high-altitude challenge.

“But this year has shown that anything is possible and circuits where you were previously weak, you are suddenly strong, and vice versa.”

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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