Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has revealed that Max Verstappen’s successful start to the campaign has been helped by his admirable work ethic, with the Dutchman never taking a day off in his quest for glory. Verstappen currently leads Lewis Hamilton at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings by four points after winning twice at Imola and Monaco respectively.
He looks set to provide a strong challenge to the dominance of his Mercedes rival over the course of the year, with Red Bull producing a highly competitive car to fuel their title-winning ambitions.
Verstappen retired from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix earlier this month after a late high-speed crash caused by a tyre blowout, but retained his championship lead with Hamilton driving straight on at Turn 1 in a dramatic safety car restart.
Both drivers will be looking to put things right at the next available opportunity in France, with Circuit Paul-Ricard playing host to round seven on June 20.
Perez claimed his second Grand Prix victory in Baku in the absence of Verstappen and Hamilton, with the result marking his first triumph since replacing Alex Albon at Red Bull at the end of last season.
The Mexican, who currently sits third in the standings on 69 points, has spoken of his admiration for Verstappen’s ability to work tirelessly in order to achieve his goals.
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Perez told Sky Sports F1 that while other drivers may ease off at times, his team-mate never drops his guard, a trait that sets him apart from the rest of the grid.
“Max is a tremendous talent,” said the 31-year-old. “From the first lap in FP1 to the last lap on Sunday he is 110 per cent.
“You see with other drivers that they have days off. He doesn’t do that and is delivering at a very high level. I’m very lucky to have that reference in him.”
Verstappen has struggled to pose a genuine threat to Hamilton up to now, with the latter winning each of the last four Drivers’ Championship titles.
However, the Mercedes man appears to have a slog on his hands this time around as he looks to claim the spoils for a record-breaking eighth time.
Speaking after last month’s Monaco Grand Prix, in which he finished seventh, Hamilton aimed a dig at his rival by suggesting that the Red Bull star is looking to prove his worth by finally mounting a championship challenge.
“We could connect [crash into each other], hopefully not,” said Hamilton. “I think the good thing is, I think there is a nice balanced amount of respect between us.
“Perhaps, as you know, he feels that he has a lot to prove, but I am not necessarily in the same boat there and I am more long-term, ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’ sort of mentality, which is ultimately why I have the stats that I have.
“I will continue with that, and I will do everything to make sure that we do avoid connecting.”
Verstappen quickly hit back at Hamilton’s comments, stressing: “I have nothing to prove. And avoiding contact, I think it goes both ways, so we have done well, that’s true.
“But we raced hard, we avoided the contact, both sides, let’s hope we can keep doing that and keep being on track and race hard against each other.”
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