Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 2021

“I was waiting all my career to get an opportunity with a top team” – Perez

2021 F1 Season

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Sergio Perez says he spent his whole career waiting for a top team opportunity in F1, which he has now achieved by joining Red Bull.

Perez was announced Red Bull’s new driver for the 2021 F1 season, replacing Alexander Albon, at the end of last year.

“It felt great,” said Perez this week, following his arrival at the team. “I was waiting all my career to get an opportunity with a top team, it finally came and I think it came at the right moment for me.”

Perez arrived in F1 with Sauber in 2011, spent a year with McLaren in 2013, then joined Force India. He remained at the latter, which became Racing Point in 2019, before being replaced. He will partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull.

“I’m so much looking forward to to make it work, to work with the engineers, with Max, to push the team forward,” said Perez. “It’s a great challenge for me and I can’t wait to get on track with the team.

“And my family are very happy, they’re very enthusiastic about this new project that we are about to have. I have full support from from them and I’m looking forward to giving them a lot of happiness and put that Red Bull car on top.

Perez said joining a team as large as Red Bull showed the scale of difference between the top teams and the midfield. “It’s amazing to be part of the Red Bull family,” he remarked. “When you come here, you realise straight away why they’ve been so successful, the amount of infrastructure they have, development and people, they have very capable people here.

“So it’s in a way very different to the teams that I’ve worked for. The organisation is tremendously high, a lot of people and the resources that you see here are very impressive. I can’t wait to get on track with with my group of people.

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“Obviously, I’d been seven years with a team so it feels different,” he explained, “It’s like a dog finding a new family, and being with a family for so many years, you are used to seeing them and then all of the sudden you’re changing. But I have to say, I’m starting to feel very comfortable here. And it’s a fantastic team, very united and I can see that there’s a lot of fun ahead of us.”

Perez has already spent time in Red Bull’s simulator and had meetings with team principal Christian Horner and Red Bull’s star designer, chief techniccal officer Adrian Newey.

“It’s just a dream come true, working with Adrian, with the amount of people, with the amount of engineers and and the level of engineering inside this team is very impressive,” said Perez.

The Sakhir Grand Prix winner believes he can offer valuable expertise to the team, which last won a world championship in 2013.

“I can bring a lot of experience, knowledge,” said Perez. “I’ve been in the sport, in different teams, in different eras and I think I know what I need from myself.

“But I also feel that I can push the team forward in certain areas, just by talking to the team and I think we know the direction. Obviously, I have to wait and drive the car, but there’s already some good ideas that we we’ve been sharing with the team that hopefully we can make some performance on track.”

Pictures: Perez’s first visit to Red Bull

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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56 comments on ““I was waiting all my career to get an opportunity with a top team” – Perez”

  1. Good to know he feels welcome and at home. Now we need the season to get going and to see them achieve some results together

  2. Already planting the seeds to get credit for any improvements in 2021. Smart.

    1. What a negative way to think, @aapje.

      1. @shimks

        It’s a compliment. Like it or not, the way people judge others has at least as much to do with narratives and perception, as with reality. If you want to succeed in life, you have to do some PR for yourself.

        Just about anyone does so, it’s just that some people pretend not to.

        1. @aapje Yes, I see your point. I didn’t think of it that way. Thanks for commenting.

          1. @shimks

            I think that we should call out things like this more often, for two reasons:
            – It makes people less susceptible to being grossly manipulated
            – It helps people who lack social skills to figure out why they are unjustly failing in life (like being passed over for jobs, that go to less competent people) and improve themselves so people treat them better

            Society is probably best off if we teach everyone that it’s important for them to present themselves in a good light, so they can find jobs, partners, etc. Yet we also want to make people resilient against those who go too far in this and take advantage of others.

  3. Too bad this top team will do everything they can to make sure you finish behind max

    1. Ridiculous comment of course, but I am sure Max will do everything he can to make sure Perez finishes behind. And Perez will do everything he can to make sure Max stays behind. As it should be.

      1. The truth is somewhere in between. Of course Red Bull will want the best for both of their drivers but that car and team has been formed around Max over the last few years. Will be interesting viewing!

      2. @robbie there is an understandable question of whether there is a certain self-interest for Red Bull to want to see more success for Verstappen, and whether that might include the question of whether they’d be prepared for that to happen at Perez’s expense.

        There have been hints from the team that they were very alert to the potential surge in Max’s value in terms of advertising in their quest to make him the youngest World Drivers Champion. From their point of view, being able to say to a potential sponsor that you have a driver with that achievement at a young age, and then selling them on the prospect of further glory, would be a rather powerful advertising hook.

        As you can see from the response of some in this thread, the fanaticism with which some of his supporters follow him would also be something that could be played upon, and particularly the potential to then turn that devotion into a sizeable stream of revenue for both the team and for that sponsor.

        Now, even if some of that will have diminished given Verstappen cannot now become the youngest ever World Drivers Champion, there is the question of which driver is the more commercially valuable one for Red Bull – right now, I would wager that will be in Verstappen’s favour.

        They have done very nicely out of the way they have presented Verstappen in the press, and if we are looking at the likely coverage that the team would get for a win or a podium for Perez when compared to the level of coverage that they would get for Verstappen achieving that same result, I would not be surprised if Verstappen would get quite a bit more coverage than Perez would.

        1. anon Oh I agree and fair comment. That said, I think, and I think many would agree, Max is special. I just don’t think, at least when it comes to Perez, they will need to handcuff him in any way, shape, or form, in order to promote Max. Sure Max is their rising star, but he started being that in his very first race with the team when one could have argued that was DR’s car Max won in, if one is to believe the one-rooster philosophy that many seem to believe exists at RBR. Max made himself their go-to guy, and didn’t get there because they were handcuffing DR. I think Perez has the same opportunity, but I just don’t think most are expecting him to be a great challenge for Max, based on his (SP’s) F1 career so far.

          RBR is doing no different than Mercedes has done with LH, Renault with FA, RBR with SV, etc etc. A team ends up with a driver that simply comes to them, or evolves with them, to be their go-to guy, and that is just a natural thing that can and does happen often. That doesn’t automatically mean a team must manipulate things in order to favour the one driver, for often the one driver doesn’t need nor want rely on the help.

          But in terms of coverage from the media, and for promotional purposes, yeah for sure I’m sure RBR would benefit that way more from a Max win, same with LH vs VB etc etc, but at the same time if Perez can swing a win the odd time, which imho will most likely only happen if Max has an issue (Mercedes projected continued domination aside), then that is still great for the team even if not quite the splash as when Max wins.

          So for me, the notion that they will literally “do everything they can” to handcuff Perez to favour Max is not something I go along with, as I don’t think they would be that unfair to Perez, and I don’t think they think Max needs the help, and I don’t think Max would want to best Perez because his teammate was handcuffed either, and so the team wouldn’t put Max in the situation where he would appear to have bested Perez only because…

          Perez is going to be free, and equipped, to race Max, full stop. The only thing that would change that is the only thing that should ever change that…if Max has a title shot near the end of the season, and Perez does not, then it would make no sense for Perez to rob points from Max in the last remaining races, and that would be a time when Perez himself would know that is simply a no-brainer, and a team order would not even be required. I can, have, and will in the future say the same thing about any driver pairing.

          1. “Full Stop”. Where did I hear that before. 🤔. Someone has been watching the F1 Netflix special I see.

        2. I think, you are underestimating Perez´s popularity in America.
          Horner and RB, in general, were impressed with the coverage of Perez hiring by American fans.
          He´s the only Latin American driver in F1 and he´s also very popular in US.
          This part of the world is one of the main markets for RB drinks, it´s a billion people market.
          So, for promotional purposes Perez is not behind Max at all, in mi opinion.

    2. @carlosmelandro
      Something Daniel Ricciardo all managed by himself, hahaha.
      It’s a pleasure to see how Daniel running away like a spineless chicken after being trashed by a barely mature Max still bothers you, please keep it up 😂😂😂

      1. Yes, it’s absolutely silly this over-defending ricciardo, I like him, and he’s a top driver, but he’s simply no longer at verstappen’s level, that was true only when verstappen was still inexperienced, and leclerc, russel and hamilton are at verstappen level, so ricciardo can only settle for top 5, assuming russel is as good as the one race showed, and that hamilton is also good without a dominant car.

  4. “I was waiting all my career to get an opportunity with a top team, it finally came and I think it came at the right moment for me.”

    I’m sure Perez said something likewise 9 years ago at the end of 2012 when he got contracted by McLaren.

    Hope he won’t crash into his teammate in Bahrain though.

    1. @jeff1s Indeed:

      “The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1. For more than 40 years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for. I was brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna’s many world championship triumphs for McLaren and I’m truly honoured that they’ve chosen me to partner Jenson from 2013 onwards.”

      1. Checo is a cheeky bugger!

        They don’t come much bigger than McLaren and he was a direct replacement for Hamilton at the time.

    2. Interesting to note every word Perez uses is analyzed in great detail. Similar to Senna.

      1. Not every word. The ones that matter.

        There’s only 20 or so drivers so it’s not that hard.

        1. @jeff1s Still trying to figure out what it is that matters from the one line quote you have provided.

          1. Keep trying.

          2. Nah I’m good. It’s irrelevant anyway.

      2. José Lopes da Silva
        21st January 2021, 9:48

        It’s January. F1 is stopped. We haven’t got anything to do.

  5. Seeing him in the Red Bull color felt weird at first glance.

    1. @jerejj Almost as weird as in 2013.

  6. Good luck, Checo. I hope you get more than one year there.

  7. Ocon was a match to Perez ; Ocon was clearly beaten by Dan Ric.
    Dan Ric was outgrown by Max (after the first 1.5 years when teenage Max was still steeply learning)
    Conclusion: I would be surprised if Perez would be much closer to Max than Albon and Gasly were.

    1. @trib4udi Your kind of math just doesn’t translate to reality. I would be surprised if, with Perez’s experience, he is not much closer to Max than AA or PG. I think we can all agree Max is incredible and will always be hard to beat, but that doesn’t meant Perez can’t or won’t have some impressive days too.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      20th January 2021, 16:02

      I think his experience will mean where Albon and Gasley were struggling to get into the top 10, Perez will be in the top 5. When he gets a bit of luck, he’ll be in the right position to pick up the scraps whereas Albon and Gasley never were. We’ll still see a dominant performance from Verstappen though.

    3. You pretty much ignore driver development there @trib4udi. As both @robbie and @petebaldwin already bring up, Perez now has enough experience where he can use that to achieve results.

      He does not have to be afraid of what Marko thinks of him, he can focus on himself and on improving the car. He knows he can race. He knows he can make tyres last. He is a race winner already. And he will be looking to sneak in a podium or even a win ahead of Max without ever expecting or thinking that he has to outright beat him everytime, especially in qualifying.

    4. There’s a factor missing in your equation: Esteban took one win from Max when he was unlapping himself.

      What i do not know, however, is how that plugs into your already complex maths. Does it multiply, divide or is it an exponent?

      Conclusion: That’s not how people’s abilities work.

    5. @trib4udi as others have noted, it seems that you are making some questionable assumptions within your posts, not least in that you seem to be dismissing a lot of the context in which those results occurred.

      When Ocon went to Force India, he was being provided with support from both Mercedes and Renault towards his development, with Renault embedding Ocon within their team and giving him practice runs in 2016, before Ocon then went on to practice at Manor in the latter half of 2016. In 2017 and 2018, therefore, he is getting relatively good support from his team and already had some experience under his belt when he went to Force India.

      However, between the end of the 2018 season and the start of the 2020 season, Ocon does not then do another race, a period of over 19 months. That large gap is a fairly significant setback for Ocon in terms of his development, and this time around we also have the added complication of covid-19.

      In a period when Ocon normally would have been working with his mechanics and building a working relationship with the team, that was, at best, fairly heavily disrupted as people would have had to begin working out how to develop new working patterns. That would then have been compounded by the in-season shutdown being brought forward to the start of the season and then being extended to over two months in duration, further disrupting that initial preparation.

      Against that, he was also facing, in Ricciardo, a driver who has 8 and a half seasons of experience – not only is that significantly more than Ocon’s previous experience, it is also quite a bit more experience than Perez would have had back in 2017 – and Ricciardo also had the advantage of being the incumbent driver.

      The circumstances would have been noticeably less favourable for Ocon in 2020 compared to 2017-2018, such that I am not surprised that he found it more difficult against Ricciardo than against Perez.

    6. javi (@javiercontreras)
      21st January 2021, 6:15

      Yeah, drivers are static like rocks, they don´t develop themselves, mature and learn…

    7. @trib4udi

      I do agree to a certain extent. I thought Ocon and Perez were fairly equal. Ocon was slightly quicker and Perez had slightly better race craft. However, I think the way Ricciardo beat Ocon last season had a lot to do with Ocon coming off a season out of F1 in a new team. I still think Ocon would have gotten beat by Ricciardo, but surely not by the same margin, if he had raced in 2019.

      Personally, I don’t think Perez will be a match for Verstappen. By the end of 2018, Ricciardo was barely a match for Verstappen, and I consider Ricciardo a decent amount quicker than Perez. Having said that, I don’t think Perez will be as poor as Albon or Gasly either. Albon and Gasly regularly finished behind slower cars and couldn’t take enough P4 to P6 finishes… which is pretty much expected of them. Perez has a decade of experience, which will help him finish in front of the other midfield cars pretty consistently.

      If I had to make a guesstimate , I’d say that Perez will out qualify Max maybe 2-3 times in the season and will probably finish in front of Max on 4-5 occasions. My guess is he’ll still be an upgrade to Albon or Gasly albeit by not that much.

    8. @trib4udi Totally agree. I don’t think Perez is any better than Albon or Gasly. Perez might be better at a strategy to cruise home and stretch tire life while Albon and Gasly would be better at a bit more of an aggressive race. Overall I see little difference. All three are mid level drivers.

      I think it depends more on how much support Perez is going to get from Red Bull to make the car work for him. Perez also seems like a driver who likes a well balanced car, so I doubt he’s going to be happier than Albon and Gasly with the more loose rear that Verstappen prefers.

      Gasly was more competitive in the STR than he was in the Red Bull car.

  8. I don’t expect Perez to beat Verstappen over the course of this season, but I do expect him to do a very respectable job, akin to Button at McLaren with Hamilton.

    1. Really excited for him. I hope the car is more driveable than last year’s.

      “they have very capable people here”

      “So it’s in a way very different to the teams that I’ve worked for”


      1. @balue So you manipulate his quotes so that you can then throw in your “Ouch” to sell it like he is taking a shot at his former team? Ok… everyone needs a hobby and I guess that’s yours.

        That he is saying they have very capable people at RBR doesn’t mean he is saying they didn’t at FI/RP/AM. But I think we call all agree that apart from his one year at Mac, yes SP would find it very different to see the amount of resources and people involved at RBR. We all have known for a long time that FI/RP/AM have been known as a best bang for the buck team, that have done very well considering their lack of top team resources and staff, which only now Stroll is building up.

        But yeah ok I’ll take a shot too, because I’m a hobby guy too, lol. Perez might have found it very different when he went to the RBR factory for the first time, to see that they actually build their own car rather than tracing someone else’s.

        1. @robbie Calm down, it was partly tongue in cheek. I suppose I should have put a smiley. Of course he meant the whole package, even if he does say the skills specifically when listing the differences. I hope his old colleagues are just as understanding in their interpretation.

          1. @balue Yeah a smiley would have helped given that sometimes sarcasm or interpretation is difficult to discern compared to when one can actually hear inflections in one’s vocal tone. You are talking of his old colleagues being ‘just as understanding in their interpretation’, and my point as per your initial post is that there is nothing to interpret that needs be taken offence to by his old team whatsoever, which is why it took for you to manipulate his quotes to make some kind of point on their behalf, that I think doesn’t exist. You don’t think RP/AM don’t already know they’re not at RBR’s level of resources and staff? You don’t think they know how capable they are in spite of that, and believe that Stroll wants to take the team there? I simply don’t see a single thing Perez has said as anything offensive to anybody at AM whatsoever. But sure, feed them only the quotes you have selected, in the order you have selected them, and that would be a different story. So I guess…congratulations on choosing to make much ado about nothing via manipulation of a person’s words?

          2. @robbie You are making a mountain out of a molehill here.

            Here is the full quote:

            “It’s amazing to be part of the Red Bull family,” he remarked. “When you come here, you realise straight away why they’ve been so successful, the amount of infrastructure they have, development and people, they have very capable people here.

            So it’s in a way very different to the teams that I’ve worked for.”

            He is directly saying there that he’s not used to very capable people. There’s no denying that, and it’s an oops moment. It’s surely not how he meant for it to come out, but that’s what it did.

            Again, I’m not slamming him, but it was still a funny and slightly revealing slip.

            (not taking this further)

          3. @balue So, as you yourself have provided, we see that Perez is speaking of RBR when he speaks of seeing straight away why they’ve been so successful. Why THEY have. And part of that is their infrastructure and THEIR very capable people.

            And actually I’d go a bit further with your “full” quote which would be “So it’s in a way very different to the teams that I’ve worked for. The organization is tremendously high, a lot of people and the resources that you see here are very impressive…”

            But I guess for you, by leaving out the sentence I added, you can then somehow support your notion that he is saying he is not used to capable people. Convenient of you. In the sentence you choose to ignore, he is clearly speaking of the high organization, the number of people, and the resources. Nowhere does him complimenting RBR in any way have to imply he thinks they are not capable at AM, other than in your mind and by you continually manipulating/selecting the quotes you want. It was not a funny and slightly revealing slip in any way. It was plain and simply a compliment towards RBR.

            And yeah, there’s little more I can add to make my opinion more clear.

  9. Why do I get the feeling Perez will become Horner’s Sith Lord. Those lovely comments from Horner about Perez must have the Orange Brigade on edge.

  10. When you come here, you realise straight away why they’ve been so successful, the amount of infrastructure they have, development and people

    Hello, budget cap!

    Seriously, I wish Checo all the best. I think he’s grown a lot since he joined F1, and I hope that he now has the skills to make the most of this opportunity.

  11. is this the same guy who drove for McLaren?

    1. @alfa145 No, I’m sure he has way more knowledge and experience now.

  12. Cool photos too. Somebody seems to have been there on the initial meeting with Newey at HQ.

    1. @balue A capable photographer, no doubt;)

      Perhaps it was a paranoid Max, wanting to ensure they didn’t feed SP too much of the good info, or give him the same size locker;)

  13. Cue a massive increase in the whining radio calls from Max!
    Good luck Chico with the new team!

    1. Whining calls? what you want to think is your bussines but it’s Checo not Chico i hope this was a typo!

  14. He’ll get the advantage if his team-mate DNFs…

  15. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    21st January 2021, 13:49

    I cannot wait to see Max and Checo on track next season. We all know there’s going to be a lot of horns locking between those two. We’ll finally have 2 Red Bulls on track!

    Netflix has already arranged for a cameraman to shadow Horner throughout all the races. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are planning to have one at Mateschitz’s home during the races to get his reaction. It’s going to be awesome!!!

    1. I’m very much looking forward to this RB lineup as well; still think we haven’t seen the last of AA but for now this is the right call. Perez’ stint at McLaren probably came too early for him and they weren’t exactly bringing their A-Game as it clearly was the beginning of their decline. A wiser, more experienced Perez might just move that second RB up the grid and put the challenge to the podium places.

  16. “It’s like a dog finding a new family, and being with a family for so many years, you are used to seeing them and then all of the sudden you’re changing” . He is either a dog lover or he is being treated like a dog at RBR.

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