Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert wants Sergio Perez to use a tactic that was used by former world champion Nico Rosberg in the 2016 season that helped him win the title over teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Herbert believes Perez should be willing to annoy his Red Bull bosses if it helps him get his hands on a maiden world championship, just as Rosberg had done.
Rosberg and Hamilton were formerly great friends, but they clashed a number of times in the 2016 season, both on and off the track.
This presented Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda with plenty of headaches across the campaign, with reported threats made to even sack one of the two.
Eventually, though, Rosberg himself decided to retire from the sport after lifting his maiden world championship.
“We had some rules put in, that you are not allowed to and you have to pay a penalty if you do it again or we will think of releasing you from your contract, because we are team players here and we cannot destroy each other,” Lauda had revealed at the time.
Things became so frosty in the end that the duo didn’t even speak with each other, but it did culminate in the German making his dream of winning a world championship a reality.
While Perez has not been seen as a realistic competitor to Verstappen in previous seasons, the Mexican has started extremely well this term and only 14 points separate the two after the first 5 races.
Herbert believes Perez should be prepared to upset a few at Red Bull if he wants to achieve something similar to Rosberg.
“If it’s your only chance, a bit like Nico. All the little things he did during his time with Lewis,” Herbert said.
“He wasn’t popular within the team and his relationship with Toto I believe wasn’t very good, but he got that trophy on his mantlepiece.
“You can’t control that. If it’s your only shot you’ll do anything to get that trophy on your mantlepiece. If you get thrown out at the end of that season that trophy is on the mantlepiece.”
It must be noted that Rosberg was eventually not sacked by his team, but in fact shocked Wolff and Lauda when he made the decision to retire just after lifting the trophy.
There have been suggestions, though, that Verstappen could use his status at the team to oust Perez and facilitate reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo’s promotion to a full-time role.
Verstappen showed tremendous intent to take the fastest lap point from Perez at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and Herbert feels Checo needs to show a similar attitude.
“We know Max has got that mentality and Lewis has that mentality and all the other drivers in the past who have won World Championships,” Herbert said.
“Now it’s seeing if Sergio wants to do the same thing. It’s a risk that you may lose that seat, the best seat in Formula One at the present time. But to win a World Championship? I’d go for it.”
We have seen enough of Verstappen to know that he will not back down from a fight. It is now up to Perez to show that he is up for it as well, even if it does get him in the bad books.