Sergio Perez says he always thought he never stood a chance of racing for Red Bull in Formula 1 due to not being part of the team’s junior programme.
The Mexican has been signed up to race alongside Max Verstappen at the Milton Keynes-based squad in 2021, replacing Alexander Albon, who has slipped into a reserve driver role.
Perez is the first driver since Mark Webber in 2007 to join Red Bull while having no previous affiliation with the team’s junior academy.
Perez’s predecessors were all backed by Red Bull in junior categories and promoted to the senior team after spending time in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso.
Due to the success of Red Bull’s young driver programme, Perez says he never believed he would get the chance to race for the four-time world champions.
“Of all the teams that are in F1, I always thought that Red Bull was no chance for me, because I wasn’t part of the junior programme at a young age,” Perez said on the Talking Bull podcast.
“It’s hard, when I put my Red Bull shirt on or when I’m drinking Red Bull or something it’s like ‘Wow, this is the brand that I drive for, the family that I’m part of’.
“It’s just amazing, it’s hard to imagine. I don’t know if it’s because I thought Red Bull was not a possibility for me, or it’s just the feeling of driving for such a big team… it’s just a dream come true.”
Prior to the seven-year stint at Force India/Racing Point that boosted his reputation in the F1 paddock, Perez joined McLaren in 2013 following Lewis Hamilton’s departure.
However, he left the team after just a single, arduous campaign, leaving some to believe he had thrown away his chance to race at a top-level outfit.
Perez says he is “ready” the opportunity to join a team at the front of the grid, having spent more than 15 years working towards it.
“I kind of got an opportunity with a top team with McLaren but things didn’t work out,” Perez commented.
“I spent seven years at what is now Aston Martin. They were like a big family, we became very close together.
“Now that I’m in Red Bull, in a new team, it’s a lot of people to meet, a lot of things to share. It’s just an opportunity I’ve worked so hard [for], more than 15 years to have this opportunity.
“I have finally got it, it came at the right time. I’m sure that I’ll grab it with both hands and I’m ready for that.”