The 1996 F1 world champion believes Perez, who beat Verstappen in both the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint and Sunday’s main race, has demonstrated that he has “rhino skin”. 

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While Hill thinks there is a mutual respect between the Red Bull pairing, he highlighted a potential key factor that may ultimately swing things in Perez’s favour. 

“I did the post-race interviews so I saw them get out of the car,” Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast. 

“Max got out of the car, went over to his own mechanics and then he gave Checo a hug actually and a handshake.” 

Host Tom Clarkson interjected to ask: “As in to say 'well done mate, you beat me fair and square?'”

To which, Hill responded: “Yeah absolutely. So I think there is respect there. 

“But Checo’s got the resilience. Things bounce off him. He’s got rhino skin and I think that’s really important.”

Perez’s double victory in Baku saw him enjoy a nine-point swing over Verstappen as he cut the Dutchman’s championship lead down to six points. 

“We want a championship,” Hill added. “We want to see Formula 1 going through the season with a tight battle. And if we’ve only got two Red Bull drivers, that’s still good. 

We’ve seen some titanic battles with dominant teams, with two drivers in those teams being the contenders. So to see the gap close again after the sprint weekend here in Baku, we can go to the next race thinking, ‘what’s going to happen next?’ I think it’s a good thing.”

But Hill questioned whether Perez would have been able to take the fight to Verstappen had circumstances played out differently and he found himself behind the two-time world champion. 

“In Saudi I was surprised at how he [Perez] managed to hold him [Verstappen] at bay, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer does it?” Hill said. 

“But he’s done it again, he’s done it again here. Okay, he got lucky with the Safety Car. Max would have been out there. 

“But probably, if Max hadn’t been unlucky with the Safety Car and was leading and had track position and Sergio was second, I’m not sure Sergio has the strength to take the fight to Max over a long-distance race. 

"They were very evenly matched and you could see that the guy behind was probably struggling more than the guy in front.”