Christian Horner says Sergio Perez’s form in the second half of 2020 in particular made it impossible for Red Bull to ignore him.
Months of speculation were finally brought to an end when the team announced Perez would be replacing Alex Albon for 2021. It came on the back of an excellent run of form from the Mexican that saw him win his first F1 race in Bahrain.
While Horner had a hard time deciding to drop Albon, he says such strong performances from Perez left him with little choice.
“The decision has been an incredibly hard one,” the team principal told Autosport.com.
“I think all of us wanted to see Alex succeed. What we said was we would give Alex the season and not make any decisions before, to have a complete set of data. And that’s obviously what we did.
“But when you look at the data, and you look at the ratio between the two drivers, it was a decision that was obviously very much driven by that.
“It was just impossible to ignore Sergio’s performance in the Racing Point over the course of the year and particularly in the second half of the season.
“He’s a very rounded driver now and I think he has an uncanny ability to over-deliver in machinery he has had available to him.
“If you look at the amount of podiums and success he’s had over the years, I think he will be a good addition to the team. I think it shows again our determination to field a competitive team against Mercedes next year.”
Red Bull are no strangers to issues between their two drivers, with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel often clashing, and Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo doing the same.
Many feel such clashes could arise again with Perez and the Dutchman but Horner is not worried about that, believing that while ‘Checo’ will be keen to challenge his team-mate, that will not cause problems.
“He’s a seasoned racer now. He has a huge amount of experience and I think he knows what he’s going up against in the quality of Max,” he added.
“He’s been in immense form in the last couple of years so I don’t think he underestimates that challenge in any shape or form. But I think he’s absolutely delighted to get the opportunity to prove himself.
“I think we want our drivers racing close to each other but up at the sharp end. It’s clear our objective isn’t between the two drivers, it’s trying to close the gap to Mercedes.
“I think Sergio raced for several seasons with Nico Hulkenberg and I don’t remember there being any issues between those two.”