Sergio Perez
Cheered on: Red Bull's Mexican driver Sergio Perez racing in front of his home fans ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP

Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez will be starting from pole position in this Sunday's Miami Grand Prix. What's really interesting is that his teammate, reigning world champion Max Verstappen, will be staring from all the way down in ninth position.

Heading into this weekend, Verstappen leads Perez by only six points in the drivers' championship. The qualifying results therefore put the Mexican in a favourable position to snatch the lead away from his teammate for the first time since joining the Austrian outfit two seasons ago.

It may be remembered that Red Bull struggled to find a suitable teammate for the massively talented Dutchman for several years. However, the arrival of veteran Perez proved to be exactly what they needed. He used his skills and experience to provide Verstappen the support he needed to win his first title in 2021. The Mexican's own results also helped the team secure both the drivers' and constructors' world championship titles last season.

At one point, Verstappen labelled Perez the perfect wingman, but things changed drastically at the end of 2022 and into the current campaign. Perez has been vocal about wanting to fight for the world championship this year, and has even warned Verstappen that he won't be sitting back to simply provide assistance.

The Red Bulls have such an advantage over the rest of the field that only Perez appears to have a very realistic chance of challenging Verstappen this season. After winning both the Sprint and the Main Race in Baku last week, Perez was not shy about saying that he believes he should be leading the championship by now if he did not face problems with his car in Melbourne.

While he has indeed closed the gap to just six points, he has a real opportunity this weekend to overtake Verstappen in the title race. This is something that may or may not be seen as a positive thing depending on who you're asking.

Team Principal Christian Horner always makes it a point to appear to support his drivers equally, but he won't be pleased to see them challenging each other to the point of animosity on and off the track. It is one thing to push each other, but with Perez gaining confidence and belief that he could be this year's world champion, there might be a clash of egos inside the Red Bull garage.

Meanwhile, Perez would need to be careful in Miami if he wants to prevent Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso from raining on his parade. The two-time world champion has consistently been on the podium this season, but after missing out in Baku, there is no doubt that he is salivating over his prospects this weekend as he starts from P2.

Alonso will be looking to overtake Perez into turn one, and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz will likely be trying to find a gap to take advantage of the battle of the two cars in front of him. Perez has struggled for pace all weekend, and if either of the two cars get past him, it is unclear if he will be able to regain the position.

Perez had a disappointing weekend up until qualifying, falling several tenths behind Verstappen and the Ferraris in nearly every session. He managed a clean first run in Q3, and was lucky to have been sitting on provisional pole when Charles Leclerc slammed his Ferrari into the barriers with only a minute and 36 seconds remaining in Q3.

The session was eventually red flagged, gifting Perez pole position. Verstappen meanwhile, aborted his first flying lap attempt after making a mistake, and was unable to complete another run thanks to Leclerc's crash. That puts him several places behind his teammate, who is on a mission to outperform him this season.

Verstappen has won from further back in the order before, but it is clear that the team strategy won't be placed entirely behind his recovery drive this time around. If he manages to catch his teammate, all eyes and ears will be on the Red Bull team radio. It is too early in the campaign to justify a switcheroo using team orders, and neither driver is likely to give way.

There may be a dog fight between the two Red Bulls on the track in Miami, and perhaps for the rest of the season.