Red Bull warned of ‘problem’ that may undermine bid to beat Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

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Former F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve believes Sergio Perez is the key to Max Verstappen’s title chances, however added that the Mexican needs to step it up to cover Mercedes off during races.

The title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen was turned up a notch in Monaco after the Dutchman took control of the championship for the first time in his Formula One career with victory in Monte Carlo.

Red Bull also overtook Mercedes in the Constructors’ standings too by a single point – knocking the seven-time champions off the top spot with Sergio Perez finishing fourth in the principality.

Red Bull are no strangers to world titles having won four in a row from 2010 to 2013, with Sebastian Vettel also winning the drivers’ title on each occasion, before Mercedes’s supremacy.

Speaking to however, Villeneuve suggested that the seven-year gap could make winning feel like a distant memory for Red Bull.

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“They are not used to it [winning] anymore. They have incredible people there, that will be fine,” said the 1997 world champion.

“But now the bigger problem is that Perez isn’t in the fight. He was quick but somehow things went wrong.

“Like in Imola when he qualified up front. Mercedes has two cars and they can use Bottas in the strategy. Having two cars makes it a lot easier to get the right strategy right.

Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas by comparison has been alongside his team-mate and Verstappen in the title fight, only slipping down the standings due to a DNF in Monaco.

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“At the moment, yes,” said Villeneuve when asked if he believed the Briton’s greatest asset at Mercedes is Bottas.

“But Perez is at least at Valtteri’s level when it comes to driving. At some point this will turn.

“If you look at Imola, Valtteri wasn’t in the running. Lewis wasn’t in the running there.

“It’s a long season, everything can change. But the teams don’t have much time to react to this with technical changes, because race after race simply comes.

“That complicates the whole thing. There shouldn’t be any big improvements.

“What we see now is what we should have: cars that are fast on some tracks and not on some. That throws everything upside down.”

Villeneuve believes that Austria however could lead to another twist in the championship.

“What will be very exciting, two races at the Red Bull Ring,” concluded the Canadian.

“Usually it’s not a bad track for Red Bull.”

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