Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is confident the more experienced Sergio Perez can push Max Verstappen harder than Alexander Albon was able to last season, which he hopes will mean the team can push Mercedes this year.
Verstappen was able to win two races in 2020, the same amount as Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, with the pair split by just nine points as the curtain fell on the season. Albon meanwhile scored less than half Verstappen’s tally, which contributed to the team dropping him.
Red Bull surprised with the decision that they would sign Perez – an outsider who hasn’t risen through the team’s own junior programme – in the hope that a more experienced line-up would help to push the team forward.
Horner is confident Perez, a driver he knows well, is the man to do that: “Checo has a lot of experience and has been driving in Formula 1 for 10 years. His performances last season were great, especially in races, where he was very strong,” he told Dutch website RacingNews365.
“I think he can push Max more than Albon did last season. Hopefully that will make us stronger as a unit in our fight with Mercedes.”
Horner praised Perez’s determination and believes his Bahrain victory and collection of podiums in cars which don’t deserve to be that high in the order, is proof they’ve made the right decision.
“In his first year in GP2 he was always stronger in races than in qualifying. He had the determination to never give up. Sergio was like a young dog with a bone. I think that has become his trademark in terms of racing.
“It’s no coincidence that he managed to reach the podium in cars that didn’t belong on the podium.
“He is very determined during the races and his tire management is very good. Sergio is now at a stage in his career where he is very well-rounded.”