Red Bull have set Sergio Perez a pace target compared to Max Verstappen which they believe will put their new driver in the fight against Mercedes.
Fed up with only having Verstappen to take on Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the front, Red Bull signed Perez this winter as a new weapon to compete for the Constructors’ World Championship.
The team’s belief is that the Mexican’s decade of experience in Formula 1, and having driven better than ever in 2020, will make him a more potent threat than his younger predecessors Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly.
Neither of that duo could ever produce the consistent pace to give Red Bull a double-pronged attack on Mercedes – but the Austrian-owned outfit are convinced it will be different with Perez.
They are working on the basis that the 31-year-old can get much closer to Verstappen.
“We assume he only loses two or three tenths to Max and not five,” Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko told F1 Insider, clearly outlining what is expected from Perez.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) February 25, 2021
But it is not just performance on the track that Red Bull expect from the man who gained his first F1 victory at the 190th attempt in the Sakhir Grand Prix, the penultimate race of last season.
At Racing Point, Perez was used to driving a car with a Mercedes engine, which has been the cream of the crop in F1 during the turbo-hybrid era.
The knowledge he has gained should prove beneficial to Red Bull as they set up their own engine operation for 2022 onwards, acquiring the intellectual property of Honda who are pulling out of F1 at the end of this year.
“Sergio has integrated himself very well,” Marko told Kronen Zeitung, with Perez having had his first run in the RB16B in the shakedown test at Silverstone on Wednesday.
“He was already able to provide us with valuable information, especially regarding the Mercedes engine.
“You can tell immediately that he has been in Formula 1 for 10 years and that he has a lot of experience.”
Asked further about how Perez was settling in at Red Bull alongside Verstappen, Marko added: “So far there have hardly been any intersections, so everything is perfect. We’ll soon see how it looks in the races.
“There will be no gifts from either of them. Max wants to hold his own.”