Sergio Perez insists he has “nothing to lose” going up against the highly regarded Max Verstappen as his new Formula 1 team-mate.
Perez secured a late deal to join Red Bull for the 2021 F1 season, after it looked as though the Mexican would be without a drive when Racing Point (now Aston Martin) hired Sebastian Vettel to replace him.
But the atmosphere at Red Bull can be difficult for a second driver, with Verstappen’s most recent team-mates both facing demotion. Pierre Gasly was pushed back to AlphaTauri, whilst Alexander Albon, who replaced Gasly, lasted just a season and a half before he was dropped.
Perez though is relishing the opportunity to measure himself against Verstappen and insists he, unlike Gasly and Albon, has nothing to lose because he has already enjoyed a successful career in F1.
“Since I knew I was coming to Red Bull, I knew I was going to be facing a big challenge in Max [Verstappen], he’s a very complete driver,” he told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.
“He is a very strong driver all round and that’s going to be a big challenge on myself,” he added.
“It’s what I wanted, I want to measure myself against the best in the sport, it’s a great challenge and a great opportunity that I’m looking so much forward to.
“The way I see it is that I’ve got nothing to lose in my career, I’ve been lucky enough to have a fantastic career, whatever comes next is great.”
Perez got his first opportunity to compare himself to Verstappen during F1’s pre-season test at the weekend, but says because of the varying conditions and programmes they were running, it was hard to draw an opinion.
“Conditions have been so different in these couple of days for both of us, I haven’t seen enough.
“He’s driven the track which is 10-15 degrees cooler at times and vice versa, with the wind changing. I think in the first three or four races I will know more.
“He is just a very chilled guy, there is no political things going on around him, he just enjoys driving. We’ve had good fun in the few times we’ve spent together.”