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Title hopes long gone, Perez focuses on finishing second

DOHA : Sergio Perez’s hopes of winning this year’s Formula One title are long gone, even if he remains mathematically in contention, and the Mexican is focusing on second ahead of a big weekend in Qatar for Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen.

With the Dutch driver on the cusp of securing his third championship, probably in Saturday’s 100km sprint, Perez’s mission now is to deliver the team their first one-two in the drivers’ championship.

“It (second place overall) is important because that’s the best I can get now,” Perez told reporters at the Lusail circuit.

“I think all the drivers in here want to get the best possible season.

“And more than that, to me, it’s very important to finish the season on a high. Because that only helps the start of next year. So, to me, it’s very important to get on top of it and make sure that we are able to deliver in the next six races.”

Even when Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel won four successive title doubles from 2010-13, the team failed to finish a campaign with their drivers first and second overall.

Australian Mark Webber was third three times and sixth in 2012.

Perez is currently second, 177 points behind Verstappen but only 33 ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Last year Perez lost out by three points in the end to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and finished third.

The Mexican has won twice this season to Verstappen’s 13 from 16 races, with the Dutch driver racking up a record 10 wins in a row until last month’s Singapore Grand Prix ended the run of domination.

Perez finished eighth in that race and failed to score the weekend after in Japan, with Verstappen winning to leave himself needing only three more points for the title.

“Asia wasn’t good for me at all. Singapore and obviously Suzuka,” said Perez. “But I think we’ve learned a lot what went wrong in Suzuka. So, I do expect to be in a much better position this weekend.

“It’s mainly the direction we took with the set-up of the car. We over-planned a few things, and now looking back at it, we do understand where it went wrong.”

Perez has a good record in the Middle East, taking his first win in Bahrain with Racing Point now Aston Martin) in 2020 and his first pole in Saudi Arabia last season. He won in Saudi Arabia this year.

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