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Perez: Red Bull no longer a one-car F1 operation

Sergio Perez feels he has the full support of Red Bull Racing for his Formula 1 title quest, suggesting the team has moved away from being a one-car operation.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

With Red Bull's new RB19 proving to be the class of the field this year, the championship battle already looks set to be a straight head-to-head between Perez and Max Verstappen.

The potential for that fight to get quite intense was made obvious at the recent Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, when Perez edged out his team-mate in the scrap for the win. But their battle was somewhat overshadowed by radio discussions regarding how hard to push.

While Red Bull has long been viewed as a team that revolved itself around Verstappen, Perez feels that things are different at the squad now. That he has every opportunity he needs to gun for the crown.

Asked ahead of the Australian Grand Prix if he felt he had the tools necessary to beat Verstappen, Perez said: "I fully believe [that]. Certainly when I came to the team, things were very different. Basically, they were just going racing with two cars because they had to.

"I can say now that I really feel part of the team. I really feel like I have my place, and I am well respected. And I think that's something good to have as a driver.

"I really believe that I have the full support of the team as much as Max does, and that I will have every opportunity to win the championship as much as Max."

Perez's hopes of winning the title this year are further boosted by the fact that the RB19 appears to suit his driving style much better than last year's RB18.

During 2022, Perez's form fell away as the development path the team took in reducing weight from its challenger meant the car's handling shifted away from his preferences.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

"Certainly, I feel more comfortable in the car," he explained. "I think we also learned quite a bit on which direction we took last year, not just the car itself, but also with how we set it up and how we tried to compensate for the weaknesses that it was giving me. We were just taking performance out of the car."

Perez said the early impressions from running the RB19 were that he and Verstappen were happy with how it handled and were both asking for similar things in terms of its development direction.

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He added: "[Now] we have got a very strong car, a very strong package, and a car that I feel comfortable with. It's a car that I'm working well with. I also believe that with the direction we're taking with the development, I can get the most out of it.

"I think that's important to be able to stay in the fight throughout the season: to have a car that you can be competitive, whatever conditions you are in.

"Certainly, last year, when we started developing the car, or basically when we put the car on a diet, basically that suited more Max and the gap just widened up.

"I believe that at the moment, we are asking for the same things. In these first races, we've been very, very close together on balance and asking for a similar sort of balance. So, in that regard, it's a good thing for now."

Additional reporting by Adam Cooper

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