Red Bull F1 head into the 2021 season with a new driver pairing. This is the third time in three years that the Milton Keynes-based team has had a new duo for the start of the season. This time alongside Max Verstappen, there will be Sergio Perez suiting up for the team.
The Mexican almost seemed to be on the brink of taking a year off. He had been dumped by Aston Martin in favor of Sebastian Vettel and needed a miracle to stay in the sport this year. The miracle came via Red Bull, but not before Checo himself had demonstrated his brilliant driving skills. Perez showed incredible consistency and crowned the season with a win in Bahrain and a podium in Turkey.
While Perez more than deserves his shot at Red Bull thanks to his skill and expertise, the team’s advisor, Dr. Helmut Marko, revealed there was one decisive factor that all but guaranteed Perez a seat. This decisive factor had more to do with Alex Albon than Perez.
Marko said (translated via Google), “The lack of consistency was the decisive factor. Sometimes Albon was up to six-tenths away from Verstappen. You can’t drive to the World Cup like that. You need two drivers for both world championships.”
Another interesting factor was Perez’s experience of driving with a Mercedes. Marko said, “Performance, responsiveness, drivability: he can give a lot of input.”
It’s no secret that Racing Point’s car last year was a remake of the Mercedes W1, even the power unit was given by the Brackley-based outfit. Using Perez’s knowledge, Red Bull could gain some important insights about their rivals’ car and its subsequent development.
Along with that, Perez also brings the team significant monetary backing thanks to his sponsors. Moreover, Checo also unlocks the Latin American market for the team. This is evidenced in what Marko said, “The tickets in the Paddock Club for the GP Mexico were sold out five minutes after the announcement.”
After years of toiling in the mid-field, Checo has reaped his rewards. However, the challenge only increases from here on. Can he keep pace with Verstappen? Can he give Mercedes something to think about? We’ll find out in March.