Max Verstappen has underlined Sergio Perez's contribution to his world title in Abu Dhabi and hopes his partnership at Red Bull with the Mexican will continue for a long time.
In last weekend's dramatic showdown at Yas Marina, Perez took over the lead of the race after 15 laps when Lewis Hamilton underwent his first pitstop.
But the Red Bull driver than put in a massive effort to fend off the Mercedes driver as he charged back, delaying Hamilton's progress which allowed Verstappen to significantly reduce the gap to his arch-rival.
The Dutchman believes that Perez's strong defense was a vital period of the race, the benefit of which he would reap upon the deployment of the safety car in the closing stages of the event.
"I think without Checo I wouldn’t be sitting here right now because then they would have had a pit gap with the Safety Car and stuff, so definitely Checo was driving incredibly," Verstappen explained.
Perez is contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2022, but F1's new world champion hopes his collaboration with the Mexican will continue for years to come.
"Of course, when we started working together, it’s difficult to know exactly how it’s going to work out," he said.
"But... Checo is an amazing human being. Not only just to work with in F1 but a super nice person, a real family man as well, and yes, I really have a lot of good times with him and you can see he really means it, and he means well.
"It’s very rare to have a team mate like that and what he showed today, he was a real team player and I really hope we can continue this for a long time."
Red Bull team boss Christian was equally complimentary of Perez's significant role out on the track; not only in Abu Dhabi, but also throughout the 2021 season.
"Checo’s been amazing," Horner told Sky Sports F1. "We talked about it before the race, how can he help Max.
"The way he backed Lewis up, he brought Max into play. They had a quicker car than us today, it was just strategy that we were able to make play.
"The tow [in qualifying], we saw it in Monza. He’s done such a good job for this team and he’s a big part of this victory.
"He just sends it, and you can’t ask more from a team mate than that. He made it really tough for Lewis, he didn’t give up. Such a wonderful, wonderful job."