Red Bull are expected to confirm Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen’s team-mate for 2021, perhaps as soon as the “coming week”.
That’s according to Formula 1 reporter Ted Kravitz who revealed the news as part of his Ted’s Notebook programme on Sky F1 after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
While Red Bull have never ruled Perez out of contention for a 2021 drive, their preference had always been to stick with Alex Albon for 2021.
It seems though that their stance has shifted with Perez set to be brought in to partner Verstappen for 2021, while Albon becomes a test and reserve driver.
“We are expecting an announcement maybe in the next coming week that Sergio Perez has joined the team,” said Kravitz.
“And Alex Albon will stay on as a test and reserve driver.
“It does look like Christian Horner and Helmut Marko have managed to convince Dietrich Mateschitz, who wanted to keep the faith with Alex Albon, to sign Perez.
“It seems like there is nothing to lose [signing Perez]. They may as well see how it goes [with him] and if he can’t do the job that they want him to do then they’ve Alex in reserve. That seems to be the elegant solution Red Bull has gone with.”
Ironically Albon delivered what Horner thought was his best performance in a Red Bull at the Abu Dhabi GP, finishing P4 after putting late pressure on Lewis Hamilton for a podium spot.
And afterwards he said he felt that he had done everything he could to convince Red Bull to stick with him.
“I feel like it’s been my best weekend, in terms of performance,” he told Motorsport.com after the Abu Dhabi GP.
“I want to say thanks for a lot of support from the guys at the factory and here. We didn’t give up, we kept trying to find solutions and getting me more comfortable with the car, and it is a tricky car to drive.
“But to keep pushing and to have my best result, obviously under all the pressures of the weekend and everything going on, I’m proud of myself, and I felt like it was a good closing end to the year.
“If it’s enough or not, it’s not mine to say really. But of course, I feel like I’ve done everything. I’ll leave it in the hands of the others to decide.”
Horner himself told Sky F1 that it was Albon’s best all-round performance of the season.
“Alex did a very good job today and it’s probably been his strongest collective weekend of the season,” he said.
“He’s driven a good race and was putting Lewis under pressure at the end. We now have a complete set of information to analyse and work out what we’ll do.
“It won’t take too long and you guys will be the first to know.”
Whatever happens Perez suffered a heartbreaking end to his career with Racing Point after an apparent transmission issue eliminated him from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.