Sergio Perez won the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time in his Formula One career after holding off Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

2016 Formula One champion Nico Rosberg, has praised Sergio Perez’s response to the tumultuous Spanish Grand Prix, claiming that his victory in Monaco has sent a message to Red Bull.

Perez passed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in Monaco after out-qualifying teammate Max Verstappen for the second time this season, and he masterfully held off the Spaniard’s threat to claim his third victory of the season.

Perez had previously described Red Bull’s decision to ask him to shift over for Verstappen as “extremely unjust” after he ended up ahead of the Dutchman owing to a mistake earlier in the afternoon.

Perez needed to demonstrate his team that he is a legitimate championship challenger, and he did so decisively in the Principality, according to Rosberg.

“[The] best way to say ‘don’t do that with me, guys, I want to fight for the World Championship as well here’ and what a brilliant weekend, everything perfect,” Rosberg told Sky Sports. “And let’s not underestimate how difficult it is to do those out-laps in those conditions and get the timings right and everything just spectacular.”

All weekend, the Mexican had appeared more at ease than the defending world champion and had rarely put a foot wrong, save for an accident at the end of qualifying that brought out the red flag.

Leclerc was brutally denied following a sequence of blunders by the Ferrari strategists, and he seemed destined to win his home race from pole if it hadn’t been for that.

According to Rosberg, if anyone deserved to win the 25 points on Sunday, it was those two.

“There were two guys, I think, this weekend you couldn’t deny the win because they excelled and that’s Checo and if Leclerc had won, regardless of how the weather all played out,” he explained. “But for Checo to get that done, it’s immense [for] his stability within Red Bull as well.”

Perez is matching Verstappen’s pace more regularly this season, according to the former Mercedes driver, and if he can keep it up in the coming races, the 32-year-old might be a title contender in 2022.

“Yeah, incredible, you wouldn’t really expect it but he’s right there and he’s also much closer pace-wise to Verstappen this year,” added Rosberg. “So let’s see how the next couple of races pans out, but it’s great.”

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