Sergio Perez, Red Bull, 2021

Perez prepared for “massive challenge” of taking on Verstappen

2021 F1 Season

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Sergio Perez says lining up against Max Verstappen at Red Bull will be “a massive challenge”, describing his new team mate as “one of the fastest, if not the fastest” drivers in Formula 1.

Perez has out-scored his team mates in each of the past six seasons, all at his previous team. Verstappen has a reputation as a formidable team mate, having seen Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon leave Red Bull or lose their places alongside him over the past three seasons.

Asked how he thought he would match up to his new Red Bull team mate, Perez acknowledged it will be “a big challenge for myself.”

“We all know Max,” said Perez, “how talented, how fast, how much he has grown in the in the past year, how complete he is by now. So he’s definitely one of the best and one of the fastest, if not the fastest out there in the current grid.

“So it’s a massive challenge, in a way. He’s been here a long time, he knows what he needs from from the car. But it’s a great challenge and I look forward to working with him and pushing forward together as a team.”

The pair won the final two races of last year, Perez taking a breakthrough victory for his former team Racing Point in the Sakhir Grand Prix. However he doesn’t believe that success alone secured his promotion to Red Bull.

“I think definitely it gave a bit of an influence,” said Perez, “but I’ve been in the sport for 10 years so people, by now, they know what I can do.”

Perez described his arrival at Red Bull as “a moment for me to prove it to myself that I can take it to the next step.”

“Now I seem to have the machinery [to win] in my hands, so I have to make sure I make it work,” he said. “I think [having won a race] certainly helps but I think more the consistency that I’ve shown through the years – last year I had a better package, so I was able to to show it more.

“But it’s not only one race in Formula 1 that changes your life. One race is very hard, but it certainly helps.”

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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37 comments on “Perez prepared for “massive challenge” of taking on Verstappen”

  1. One thing that Perez will have is experience in cars that don’t have the stability that the top running cars have which seems to have been the problem that Albon had.
    I’d expect him to be able to handle that much better than both Albon and Gasly could so he should be closer to Max and indeed regularly 4th or better.
    What will be interesting is whether or not he can race with the top 3 without destroying his tyres because it will be expected that he be up there pushing rather than tooling along managing his tyres to maintain a solid 7th or 8th which was his forte in the FI/RP cars.

    1. @dbradock The only scenario where Perez shines is the times when he is on a strategy to go long. With an offset strategy to the others around him. Especially starting from P11 has helped him often.

      Saving tyres is usually something one does with a as stable as possible car.

      1. And then he finally may get a car than can push while preserving tires, we can’t assume what we haven’t seen, is not like he couldn’t race a top car he never had a chance, when per got a descent car he put it on the podium !

  2. Almost any driver would take the seat and he doesn’t have anything to prove but it seems some fans believe they know more than team owners. I cant help but think he will be chewed up by Max. Hope I’m wrong and hes more Mansell coming into ‘Piquet’s’ Williams than any who dared be MS’ number 2. Contractually it might not be so buttoned up as that but structurally it already is.

    1. @tonymansell I think there are only two drivers right now who Max can’t ’chew up’ so for the rest it is just a matter of to what degree, and with Perez that remains to be seen. It takes an LH in his dominant car that has fit him like a glove for going on 8 seasons, and VB who seemingly is not WDC material but just happens to be in the only other capable car, to beat Max.

  3. Perez describing his new team mate as “one of the fastest, if not the fastest” drivers in Formula 1.

    Max and Verstappen, both of them.

    1. if Perez beats him how will feelings will stack up ?, will it be Perez the glorious or bad year for Max ?

  4. Assuming he gets up to Verstappen’s speed, I’m actually wondering how long it’ll take before both collide. Max isn’t afraid of contact and Sergio seems to seek for a teammate bump every now and then. Can’t wait for Baku, where both have history!

    1. If Perez can get to Ricciardo levels against Max, then fireworks are inevitable.

      1. Yes, and I wouldn’t exclude perez could be at ricciardo level, I mean, he performed well in the midfield, it’s easy to say ricciardo is better cause he had great performances in a top car, but perez never had one, so we’ll finally see how he stacks up in a top car and against a top driver.

        1. He did have one. At Mclaren. And he was a bit rugged.

          1. I recall some of the rugged driving, but I also recall the MP4-28 being quite poor.

        2. Tbh…Ocon bested Perez quite dramaticall… 4 more DNF’s can’t hide the fact he was the better driver out of the paiing. Now look at what Ricciardo did to Ocon in 2020.

          Ricciardo and Perez are far from being on a similar level, Perez simply is not even close

          1. sour grapes Ocon was beat fair and square every time and lost his seat

    2. @niefer Yes driver conflict is virtually assured IMO.

      But as much as I want Perez to do well, he will no doubt have trouble with Verstappen even if the car is more driveable now. Will at least be fun to see people predictably mark him down after the season because he lost badly rather than give it to Verstappen.

    3. Baku collision and Max gone? It’s a possibility!

    4. At Force India/Racing Point Perez had regular clashes with Ocon. Both are hotheads and now Red Bull has a similar situation at hand. Perez is a real racer and will not be Red Bull’s Bottas. He will go for the win. So bring it on!

      1. Nah last “clash@, btw for the gp win, between perez and Ocon was rather not supporting your outdated hot head opinion of them, also Perez been battling Max for most of 2020, so not sure why your condemnation to failure.

  5. Of course it may turn out to be all very undramatic, but this is the driver line-up I’m most excited about seeing this year.

    Perez isn’t a young driver battling inexperience with a desire to prove a place on the grid, he’s a seasoned driver. Many knock him but I think his racecraft is excellent. He may well get out-qualified for most of the season, but the team is built around Max and he’s used to the car. However Perez seems to perform at his best when he’s behind, and I mean waaaay behind! I suspect the points haulage won’t have a massive gap like other teams – and Red Bull will hopefully have the benefit of being able to use him strategically in the race, especially if he continues to make his tyres last longer than they ought to.

    If half the battle is psychological, I don’t think Perez is nervous of being Max’s teammate. It’s one less hurdle to jump over before he even sets a laptime.

    1. Coventry Climax
      21st January 2021, 12:41

      Even if he is not the youngest anymore, I think Perez certainly feels he needs to prove a point. And it wouldn’t be good if he didn’t. On the other hand, -my opinion- that’s his weakness: his need to prove a point overwhelmes his clear thinking sometimes, with clashes as a result, even -or specifically?- with his teammates.
      Secondly, all current drivers make the tyres last longer than they ought to. That’s within the nature of the current generation of cars and Pirelli tyres. Pitwall remarks like ‘push now, push’ are ridiculous, as they should be pushing each and every lap already, but clearly aren’t.
      Anyway, I think there’s a real danger of Perez clashing with Verstappen. He’s proven it with all his other teammates, so why should it be different now?

      1. Anyway, I think there’s a real danger of Perez clashing with Verstappen. He’s proven it with all his other teammates, so why should it be different now?

        I suspect it will be different because in the past Perez was trying to assert himself as the “Top Dog” or “Alpha Male” in the team where now he will be the underdog. I believe he will bring a more level head, similar to the approach needed to bring a car from the back of the grid to the front.

        Like others, I am really keen to see how this battle plays out.

  6. “Now I seem to have the machinery” lol. Gassly seemed to have the machinery too.

    1. Yeah, but just like Ricciardo he failed miserably against Verstappen 😂😂😂
      Atleast he had the courage to stay instead of that spineless chicken who choose to run and give up the chance of becoming a WDC!

      1. János Henkelmann
        21st January 2021, 15:31

        How exactly did Ricciardo “fail miserably” against Max?

        This kind of vocabulary is reserved for Alex and Pierre…

        1. Ricciardo was ahead of Verstappen on merit three times in 2018…. three times in 21 races
          Ricciardo was ahead of Verstappen on merit five times in 2017…. five times in 20 races

          I would not say he failed, Max and Dan are certainly further apart than Lewis and Valtteri… some absolutely claim Bottas does a very poor job at Mercedes….while Dan did a worse job against his team mate people keep hanging on to them being close…(??)

    2. @carlosmedrano But of course the difference is Gasly didn’t/doesn’t have the experience that Perez has, so I think combining that and just the fact that SP has waited for a while for this and will be ultra stoked, to me means SP will likely be much closer to Max all things considered. He’ll be on a mission from the getgo whereas I think PG and AA had to spend too much time just acclimatizing themselves to working at the RBR level let alone sorting out their own needs, and Perez will already be a veteran at that sort of thing. I think it will just be nose to the grindstone straight away with him, and he won’t be ‘lost’ like the youngsters were. But hey, RBR would rather have not thrown them into the deep end like that either, but for DR leaving.

  7. Perez´s doubters were sure that he will never get a top seat.
    They had all the “data” to prove it.
    They all were proved wrong as usual, then, conveniently, they shift their attention to future now: Perez´s failure is on future…laughable.
    Taking into account that being wrong is the story of their lives, so we can expect Perez will do good.

    1. Orange brigade mate. Bit unusual of Max’s ego he seems to have a lot of respect for Sergio. Never seen Max like this before.

      1. Jon I’m not entirely sure what you mean. Max and DR got along great.

        1. @robbie They get on better now after DR left, the atmosphere while he was still in the team was a little tense at times towards the end. But it was not anything thing to do with Verstappen himself. Same goes for the relationship between DR and Marko, it has also improved.

          1. the atmosphere while he was still in the team was a little tense at times towards the end

            complete and utter nonsense..
            The only “tense” period was about Baku and the aftermath.. But as Ricci stated it did not influence their friendship. Both are professional drivers and they know sometimes on track the rules of engagement are different.

  8. I just hope with Checo in the second car that we can get an extremely competitive constructor championship. The run of Mercedes needs to end.

    1. Coventry Climax
      21st January 2021, 17:09

      I can only agree with you.

    2. I believe is all real fans want

  9. That’s what we’re all hoping, no? for Sergio to be in the thereabouts of forced errors at Mercedes, so that the third and fourth fastest cars can get in the mix and spice things up.

    Will it be McLaren or Alpine or Ferrari? Who cares, we want less podia for Mercedes!

  10. You (Perez) doesn’t have to challenge Ves. Just following his tail, if you can, is enough.

  11. Hmm My English is bad. Doesn’t is don’t

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