Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

I don’t see why joining Red Bull is not going to work – Perez

2021 F1 season

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Sergio Perez believes he is more likely to succeed in his second chance to drive for one of Formula 1’s big teams.

Red Bull’s new driver has been handed his biggest opportunity to impress since joining race-winners McLaren at the end of 2012, his second season in Formula 1.

Red Bull has “good momentum,” Perez told the official F1 website. “I just think that in general there is a lot of hope, that and there is definitely good direction and the team is solid.”

The veteran of 191 grands prix said his chance to join the team has come “at a better time in my career” than his one-off season at McLaren in 2013.

“When I came to McLaren, I think it was probably the wrong time for the team as well. It was a year when everything went backwards.”

Feature: Why Perez believes he can make a success of his second chance with a top team
He ended the season 11th in the drivers championship, 24 points behind team mate Jenson Button.

“I don’t think driving-wise I did bad,” said Perez. “I out-qualified Jenson there and so on. So I think in general it was a good stint but they were other political factors in it.”

Having scored a breakthrough victory in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, Perez was confirmed as a Red Bull driver after the season ended. He had been told by Racing Point earlier in the year that he would not be retained for the final two years of his three-year deal.

Prior to that Perez missed two races after testing positive for Covid-19. “It was very difficult, the roller coaster I had last year,” he said. “Getting Covid, being the first one, I was like the ‘weird guy’.”

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“I think at the time Formula 1 thought that we were bullet-proof to it,” he explained. “So I got a lot of criticism and it was at a very critical time in my career because it was a time where I needed to be in the car because I was about to lose the drive.

“In the end, I lost the drive. It was very late in the year and there were very little opportunities there happening.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021
Perez was quickest on the final morning of testing for Red Bull
Perez said he planned to take a sabbatical and return for the 2022 F1 season until the chance to join Red Bull arose.

“At some point I was just thinking that was it, that was my career, because I’ve been here 10 years and I felt that I’ve proven myself time after time and I was not willing to go into any team just for the sake of going.

“Then as the season progressed, things developed well and there were already some options for ’22. So I said, well, if I’m not here in ’21, I won’t retire, I will wait a year and come back for ’22.

“Then the Red Bull thing became very serious and it actually happened. So it was just fantastic that it worked out.”

He said his priority at the team is “winning and delivering weekend in, weekend out.”

“That’s the priority here, that we are just able to to maximise,” he added. “And I just don’t see why it is not going to work.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “I don’t see why joining Red Bull is not going to work – Perez”

  1. I’m thinking old Checo is going to prove a few people right this year. Something akin to Rosberg’s level against Hamilton.

    1. @alloythere I agree. He must be absolutely stoked right now. I think he’ll do great this year.

    2. He is in his prime, and full of confidence so will no doubt do well, both against his new teammate and with some podiums and perhaps a win.

  2. I’m happy for Checo and the way things turned out for him is amazing. I think he’s fast and mature, I’m really looking forward to see him compete with Verstappen.

  3. Half the problem is psychological – the kids from the Young Drivers Academy enter the team *expecting* to be whipped by Max as their team mate. If that margin is massive then precedent has been set that they will be lopped off as dead wood and replaced. The pressure to perform is massive and maybe it restricts them.

    The other half is experience.

    Perez doesn’t have those psychological issues, whether you agree with him or not – I’m sure he sees himself being as capable as Max, Lewis – or anyone else, and capable of beating them. He also has experience, quite a lot of it.

    At Force India, Perez was more than a driver. He was a driving force (no pun intended) behind keeping the team together and rescuing them from ruin, he could also be a massive asset to Red Bull, and entertaining to watch – fingers crossed!

    1. @geekzilla9000 Really well said. It is unfortunate that they couldn’t retain DR and that they had to go with a few drivers that just weren’t ready, and I’m sure it is not RBR’s preference to hire youngsters only to lop them off as dead wood. But now here we are back with hopefully a DR level teammate alongside Max. One with experience and not the psychological hind foot.

      And even if SP, not ‘doubts’ himself, but sees LH and Max has big benchmarks to reach, which they are, I think he will be stoked at the challenge and this year is an incredible opportunity to raise his game now that he will have a car in which to do so. In one sense, all drivers have to at some degree forget about who is in the other cars for they knows they have to beat them all anyway if they are to win races and the title. At no small a level they all have to boil it down to doing everything that is in their own control and forget about what the others are doing, which they can’t control anyway.

      1. They didnt treat DR well, so he left and made a fortune elsewhere.

        Soooo Sergio is very experienced.

        1. I honestly don’t think ricciardo made fortune elsewhere, he certainly drove well for the car given to him, the problem is there’s been no car so far performing better than red bull, which he chose to leave, mercedes aside.

          And yes, I think performing like ricciardo could be perez’s objective against verstappen.

          1. I’d be humilated to be paid less as a more experienced guy, he was making merely half of what Verstappen was getting with his new contract. So, the answer is yes, he changed his team and made fortune elsewhere. He is probably getting less in McLaren, but the money was definitely a major factor when he changed to Renault.

          2. TurboBT That isn’t accurate at all. The only reason Max was getting more was because he had stepped up and re-signed the year before DR left. DR’s contract wasn’t up yet at the time. They weren’t going to just go out of the contract and pay DR more, a year before his contract was up, just because Max started a new contract and got a raise. Had DR signed he would have matched Max in money. At least I’m assuming they weren’t going to pay DR more than Max, for by then Max was outperforming him. By all accounts RBR’s offer was fair and everything DR was asking for. That Renault offered him more was fair game, but not something RBR could control, nor did they need to get into a bidding war and start paying DR the same exorbitant amount as Renault were, which would have been unfair to Max who was outperforming him. What DR had to decide was if the money was going to be worth going to a team with lesser cars. That’s the price he paid for moving.

  4. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work. He was out of a seat. Anything is better than that.

  5. He is not there to compete with Verstappen.
    His job is to trouble the Mercedes cars, giving Redbull more strategic options, and pick up the scraps when his team mate is not able to.
    And he will probably do that very well.

    1. @vegggen He’s there to compete with Max too. Whether he does and how much he can remains to be seen but nothing will stop him from outqualifyng Max and starting ahead of him on grids and trying to stay ahead of him in races, other than Max and his own performance. Initially SP will need some time as he himself has said, so it is going to be very exciting to watch how it all unfolds over the whole season. Much will depend on where the other cars/drivers are too. If Max is even just a tenth or two better than SP, which by SP’s own admission should be the case at least initially (not saying he has quoted projected margins or anything) then SP might be initially fighting CL or VB or DR or FA while Max is harassing LH. Perhaps after the five races SP has projected he’ll need, it might be something more like both RBRs fighting both Mercs, and SP will start to leave the likes of the four drivers I’ve mentioned in his dust.

      We’ll only know when we know and I can’t wait.

  6. Curious what the politics at McLaren were, and what his ’22 option was.

    Anyway, I really believe he will deliver and has the head for the big fights. Of course he’s likely just there to mess up Mercedes’ strategy as a wingman to Verstappen with long stints etc, but I bet he will still impress overall.

    1. @balue His on-track scrapes with Button probably didn’t endear him to the management at McLaren. Plus they had Magnussen waiting in the wings, who was such a once-in-a-generation talent that McLaren dropped him a season later.

    2. @balue I suspect he’s referencing the Martin Whitmarsh, Ron Dennis power struggle primarily. Ultimately some very poor decisions were made 2012 onwards including losing their star driver and that ill fated switch to Honda power. Lots of poor strategy decisions.

  7. It’s a weird situation because if he’s on par with Verstappen it heavily devalues Verstappen’s stock and bargaining prowess in future negotiations. If he gets blown away by Verstappen in a similar fashion to Albon and Gasly then people who are Verstappen detractors will claim Perez was never all that to begin with. I don’t think he has anything to lose and unless he’s embarrassed by Verstappen it will not hurt his career to be beaten anyway.

    I personally think he’ll be closer to Verstappen and faster in some races this year which will benefit the team but Verstappen will still have the legs on him overall by a comfortable margin for the most part. Perez always seems to have a race or two each year though where he’s untouchable not too dissimilar to Button to be fair. When everything is right for that sort of driver they’re almost unbeatable on their day. They just don’t have as many of those days as some of the very best drivers in history.

    I think he’s also a great driver for Verstappen to have alongside as I genuinely think there might be some things he can learn from Perez to improve himself further. I think Hamilton was very lucky to have raced alongside Alonso, Button and Rosberg in his career as he learned some important lessons from each of those drivers. Verstappen has had nothing to learn from Gasly and Albon for 2 years.

    Should be a great story for the year to watch how he gets on. I’d love a Perez win first time out ala Button in 2010 just to add some spice for the year.

    1. @slowmo I can go along with much of what you’ve said except for your first sentence. I think ‘if’ he is on par with Max it will show just as much the strength of the car, and Max will still be putting in his usual incredible drives. Nothing is going to take away from Max as to his future potential and any team would still love to have him and would pay to do so. But the odds that suddenly SP would be deemed on Max’s level, when he hasn’t exactly shown that throughout his career, I think are slim. Even if he hasn’t had the RBR level of cars, he still has had opportunities to show himself to be at another lever, and has he? Certainly he himself has acknowledged he’ll need some races just to acclimatize to the team and the car and they to him.

      No I have utter confidence that Max is a cut above the rest. Perhaps even LH but of course that is hard to support against a driver who will now be in his 8th season of a dominant car that fits him like a glove. Unless of course we’re now seeing LH/Mercedes with a chink in their armour from testing, but I’ll not hold my breath on that and fully expect that even if Mercedes start the season on their hind foot there is every reason to expect they will sort things throughout the season.

      1. Reputations change quickly in F1 so who knows what could happen. Vetted has gone from a top 5 to bottom 5 driver in a lot of people’s eyes in just a season and a half.

        I don’t think Perez has anything to lose reputation wise this year and that was my main point.

        1. True that, vettel really went down a lot, there’s a lot of people who think he was never that good, as in even in red bull he was mistake prone, however his 2017 season was at 2017 hamilton level and the first half of 2018 wasn’t bad at all, so he certainly should be capable of more than what he did in 2020, so curious to see how he’ll do this year, wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in the middle of the grid performance wise.

        2. @slowmo SV lost reputation because of his mistakes he was making too often and at key times when it was potentially for wins and some degree of chance against LH. I don’t see Max suddenly making mistakes like that, and similarly losing reputation. But you didn’t speak of it that way wrt Max, but rather just in terms of Perez matching him, and then you claimed that would devalue Max.

          That is what I disagreed with the most from your first point, and while you say Perez has nothing to lose reputation wise, and I generally agree, although that really depends on how he does, you did open up your comment suggesting Max would lose reputation, and I highly doubt that is going to happen, and that was a point that I disagree with in how you have supported your Perez argument.

          Equally I would add that if somehow Perez performed relatively as badly as Albon, which I don’t at all expect, but you did start this with a hypothetical of your own, then I would say it would be Perez who would lose reputation.

          I expect Perez to do much better as he will be in a much better car, but he is no Max, and he also has some acclimatization to do yet as he himself has said. So the chances of Perez losing reputation are I think slim, and I think even slimmer for Max. Max has already shown he can outdrive the car and wring the Max-imum out of it. Perez still has to prove exactly what he can do with it. It’s not going to be hypothetical for long;)

          1. It’s definitely one of the most exciting battles on the grid this year although there a few good ones on the card this year at McLaren, Aston Martin and Ferrari as well.
            As you say, my opinion is hypothetical and subjective but it’s fun to talk about different viewpoints. It’s a very big hypothetical about Perez affecting Verstappen’s reputation, he’d have to push him hard all year. Maybe that would just raise Perez stock, who knows. I guess my second comment was that you can’t always tell what narrative the masses will run with in this sport.

          2. @slowmo Good comment, and yeah it is a blast to debate the hypotheticals, especially when there’s nothing to watch lol. I find it hard to imagine Perez’s stock won’t go up this season, and while I personally don’t think Max is beatable, I think many understand that he is special, and they won’t be too hard on Perez because he is going to do well nonetheless, and will imho show strong work and progress, and that is all anyone can ask. I think RBR thrives on having fun while they put their noses to the grindstone in a collective effort, so I think this team is going to be a blast to watch. Ultimately as a Max fan I have utter confidence in him, and feel no threat from Perez, but if Perez can push him, let’s say even out qualify him sometimes eventually, I’ll love seeing Max react to that and take up the challenge. And I’d genuinely be happy for SP too. I think he deserves to be able to show us some shine in finally the best car he has ever had that should be able to bring out the best in him.

  8. I wish journalists and commenters (not a dig at RaceFans, I should stress) would stop the false narrative that this is Perez’s “second chance” in a top team. McLaren in 2013 were far from a top team. Yes, the infrastructure was still “top”, the facilities were still “top” and the expectations were still “top”, but the car was far from it. In 2012 the team won 7 races and finished on the podium 13 times. In 2013 they failed to get on the podium even once. It was not a shot in a “top” team, in the same way that Norris was not driving for a top team last year. McLaren haven’t been a top team since 2012.

    This is Perez’s first real shot in what is likely to be a race winning car. It’ll be fascinating to see how he compares to Verstappen. Personally, I think he’ll fall short, but not in an embarrassing way. He deserves his opportunity.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      17th March 2021, 16:43

      @ben-n it wasn’t the car. It was the environment – it killed Vandoorne too. When I watched Drive to Survive, you knew full well that Vandoorne wouldn’t stand a chance and that’s without being there day in, day out.

    2. I see what you’re saying @ben-n, “A top shop does not a top team make”.

    3. Absolutely agree, ben, this is the first chance he gets in a top team, and with his luck I was afraid red bull would fall back this year, but the test results were so far encouraging that they should at least be at 2020 level in relation to mercedes.

    4. @ben-n The press thought McLaren was a top team, which I think was 30% of Checo’s problem that year. (The other 50% was a combination of inexperience and the Dennis/Whitmarsh power struggle).

  9. I give it 3:1 odds they are going to run each other off the track before half the season is up. Neither gives an inch. I think Perez has the quick aggressive reflexes needed for the Red Bull. I think he’s gonna be right up there with Max, and we are going to see some ego’s surface when push comes to shove. Yay!

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    17th March 2021, 16:38

    The most important thing I picked up is the following quote from Perez during his stint at McLaren:

    it was a good stint but they were other political factors in it.

    Of all the teams, I think Ferrari and McLaren are probably the worst to drive for. After all, they managed to drive Lewis Hamilton out of the team. Of all the accomplishments achieved by McLaren, that has to dwarf all of them :-)

    1. @freelittlebirds You managed to work Hamilton and his opponents into a Perez-Red Bull thread, grats.

      That McLaren made Hamilton by giving snotfaced kids a chance after just being asked like they did with Hamilton and let him in a car to fight for championships with, means of course nothing. They are the worst team ever because Hamilton had a fight with them later.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        18th March 2021, 15:13

        @balue Well, I think you can congratulate Perez for that as he brought it up.

        And Hamilton was the driver in the seat that Perez got the drive for – so they are related. Hamilton was justifiably upset at McLaren for throwing away victories and championships as they squabbled internally and focused on keeping Jenson happy who was being lapped by Hamilton in 2012.

    2. @freelittlebirds McLaren used to be one of the most political teams in F1. Their success in the last 2 years is partly because that’s no longer true.

  11. I for one just cannot wait to see the extreme driving style and what it does in the Red Bull.

    1. I’m hoping we might be able to look forward to some of his famous “racing”:

      Or, maybe, it’ll be something to do with his secret life


  12. It seems so odd to reflect back and think about how Perez was seen as an immature accident-prone driver in 2013. He was basically the Verstappen (of a few years ago) of 2013. Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Button and Grosjean (ironic) all complained about Perez’s overly aggressive driving. He’s come a long way from then.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      18th March 2021, 7:29

      @mashiat Well in 2018 Perez still drove into Sirotkin out of frustration for not being able to get past.

    2. Never seen Hamilton say anything bad about Perez on the contrary Hamilton is very much a fan of Perez.

  13. I stood by Perez back in 2013. I think he showed more speed than Button, he just did not capitalize on that speed. In my book he beat Button. (Not a difficult task)
    I said at the time that Perez was mostly hired because of his sponsorship potential like chicharito and I also said that Mexican sponsors not coming through was the reason he got the boot as in my view he did beat Button.
    Some have changed their tune on Perez in the last couple years, from pay driver to gifted driver.
    Perez looks to be a different driver now, he started to capitalize on good chances, netting a few podiums along the years, that said racing a championship winning car last season showed that Perez is not a top driver or not ready to be a top driver, his season was largely wasteful, the car had tremendous pace and he made some mistakes, in the end that Bahrain race initially looked like another wasted opportunity luckily for him he managed to win that race.
    Looking at his next challenge I like his attitude, he has been very realistic he knows he has to drive the car a certain way in order to extract the speed Max is able to achieve. I sincerely hope he does succeed in it yet I do not expect him to do so. Testing he looked awful in the beginning but far better in the end, the car does not look lethal so I think he won’t get crushed like Gasly and Albon, I can see him doing as well as he did against Hulk, decidly slower but picking up the pieces.

    1. The pink Mercedes was not a championship winning car only RB and Mercedes were lapping the field. 🤦‍♂️

      1. Championship winning car? What season were you watching.

  14. I fully expect Max to beat him in a competition of straight pace, but Perez has shown over his career that he is a master at reading a race and maximising his resources. I think he’s going to do well.

  15. Totally dependent on how Dr Death uses his one eye, and history…………………

  16. In the same car better than Max? Nobody knows except Max.

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