Damon Hill believes Sergio Perez’s vast F1 experience should give him more clout at Red Bull than was the case with Pierre Gasly or Alex Albon.
Red Bull have opted for a change of policy in finalising their 2021 line-up, looking outside their own driver development programme for the first time in 14 years for Max Verstappen’s team-mate.
In Perez, they have chosen a man with a decade’s experience on the Formula 1 grid as opposed to fast-tracking a youngster like they did with Gasly and Albon, both of whom failed to cut the mustard alongside Verstappen.
And although the Dutchman will undoubtedly remain Red Bull’s big hope of bringing back their title-winning days spearheaded by Sebastian Vettel from 2010-13, Hill thinks the team would be missing a trick if they marginalised what Perez brings to the table.
After nearly 12 years we will work together again, mate. Thank You Christian Horner for this great opportunity.
Helmut Marko, I’m very happy and thankful for the confidence placed in me, I’m going to work very hard to help this team to bring one more Championship #givesyouwings👐 pic.twitter.com/j2cJarBLon
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) December 19, 2020
“I think Sergio, being more mature, having had more experience, I think he will be able to see what’s going on,” said the 1996 World Champion on Natalie Pinkham’s ‘In The Pink’ podcast.
“It’s very difficult for a young person who is beholden to Red Bull. Sergio’s life does not depend on Red Bull, so he will be able to act as a strong player within that team and they will have to listen to what he says because he has quite a lot of experience now – more than Max, don’t forget.
“When you have a very talented driver, sometimes a team can go off on a tangent because the driver says ‘I like that’ and sometimes the driver can be wrong.
“Sometimes a driver can have so much natural talent they can drive anything, it doesn’t matter how bad it is, they can still make it go quick. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going in the right direction with the car.”
In terms of Perez’s on-track performance, Hill used a cricketing analogy to compare him to Albon.
Perez staked his claim to Red Bull throughout 2020 with a series of strong points finishes in the Racing Point, plus his first career F1 victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix, whereas Albon made a disappointing contribution considering the machinery at his disposal.
“It’s like a cricket team, you need someone who’s going to score a hundred, someone who will be able to protect the wicket and come back with something at least,” said Hill.
“There was a bit of uncertainty with Alex and for whatever reason, it’s very difficult in that team for a team-mate [to Verstappen].”