Hakkinen explains how Perez is playing a key strategic role for Verstappen

Mika Hakkinen has highlighted Sergio Perez’s new role at Red Bull, saying he will be crucial in Max Verstappen’s title charge.

Perez and Verstappen are teammates at Red Bull, and with the Mexican all but out of the title picture, the focus will be on the Dutchman. Checo will have a key role to play in helping his team fend off the challenge from Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.

At the US GP, Perez finished in third place, taking a very strong result for Red Bull and helping them slash the gap to Mercedes. The next race will be in his home country of Mexico, and he will want to excel there as well.

Hakkinen highlighted Perez’s new role at Red Bull, and said that his results could influence Verstappen’s title bid.

“It was also a strong weekend (at the US GP) for Max’s team mate Sergio Perez who looked like he might take pole position,” Hakkinen wrote in his column for Unibet, as quoted by Racingnews365.com.

“Although he started third, he was able to put enough pressure on Lewis to force him to make his first pit stop slightly earlier in order to avoid the undercut.

“Sergio’s performance in this next race will again play an important strategic role for Max, but I know that Lewis and Valtteri Bottas remain confident that there will be more opportunities for victories this year.

Perez (right) will be supporting Verstappen (left) in the latter’s title bid. Source: racingnews365.com

“It’s a championship that has produced some major surprises and we will certainly see some more before we reach Abu Dhabi in mid-December.”

To hell and back

Perez got a sweet reward for his efforts in the shape of a podium finish. However, it was literal hell for him to race for those 56 laps, as his drinking system failed.

Hakkinen commented that the lack of drinks probably hindered him, and that he could have been faster were that not the case.

“Ultimately, Sergio fell back, not helped by a drinks bottle that was not working – that made life difficult for him towards the end of the race,” he added.

“On a hot day, dehydration is not ideal when racing in F1!”

Read more: Hakkinen backs Norris over staying out at Russian GP – “Have to face difficult decisions to win”

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