Lewis Hamilton is confident that the addition of Sergio Perez at Red Bull will see the team pose a stronger threat to Mercedes in 2021.
Red Bull confirmed on Friday it had signed Perez to take over the seat previously occupied by Alexander Albon, who has slipped into a test and reserve role.
Max Verstappen has led the charge at Red Bull over the last two seasons, with both Pierre Gasly and Albon failing to pose a consistent threat to the Dutchman.
However, with Perez’s experience of 191 races, Hamilton is confident that Perez, alongside Verstappen, will make the energy drink-backed squad a formidable force going forward.
“Naturally, this makes Red Bull stronger, particularly with the way Sergio is performing,” Hamilton said.
“I think Sergio has driven incredibly well this year, and truly deserved a drive. I was so, so, so happy to hear he was taken on by one of the top teams and given this opportunity.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting battle to watch him up against Max.
“That’s going to make it much harder for us as a team, we’re going to have to really step up our game, because that’s going to be a battle we haven’t seen for some time, having the two drivers there fighting against us.
“But we relish that as a team, that’s what we work towards, we love the challenge and it’s going to make it that much more exciting.”
Hamilton added that he understands Verstappen’s situation over the last couple of seasons, having gone through a similar experience at McLaren a number of years ago.
“With all due respect to Alex, in the races that we’ve had [in 2020] it’s been me, Valtteri against Max,” Hamilton stated.
“I’ve been in the position where Max is, when I was at McLaren, when I was the lead car and the second car wasn’t in the fight.
“When we were fighting against Ferrari, they could play, they could move around with the strategy and make it a lot harder for us.”