Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has insisted performance was the only deciding factor behind hiring Sergio Perez for 2021.
Throughout the latter stages of the 2020 campaign, Alex Albon’s struggle to find form led to speculation that Red Bull could turn to Sergio Perez for next season.
The Mexican racer had known in September that his seat for 2021 at Aston Martin was going to Sebastian Vettel.
And not long after the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Red Bull made the rumour official, confirming Perez as Max Verstappen’s team-mate for 2021, while Albon was demoted to a reserve and test driver role.
Mateschitz says Red Bull made the call out of a need for both drivers to be fighting at the top of the standings.
“That we need two strong drivers next year,” said Mateschitz when asked by speedweek.com for the reasoning behind choosing Perez.
“Perez is one of the best in terms of performance and has never had a chance in a car like ours. He has earned this chance. Our goal was to fill the second seat in the best possible way – and that was exclusively by performance. Who can score more points?”
Perez is known to carry heavy-hitting sponsorship with him and many believed that had an impact on Red Bull’s decision.
But Mateschitz said this had no role to play in the decision to hire Perez at all, claiming he does not even know who Perez’s sponsors are.
“I don’t even know who he has,” said the Austrian billionaire.
“That was not a deciding factor. If he brings sponsors we welcome it because it’s not a payment for a seat, it’s a bonus for the team.”
Thanks hermanos! 👊♥️ see you on track next year. https://t.co/CFxj5GZWqd
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) December 20, 2020
But while Perez has his own sponsors in place, there was a belief that Albon’s Thai backing could have kept him in the frame for 2021.
Mateschitz, though, said it was just an “invention from some people” that Albon’s Thai partners had pushed for him to retain his seat.
“They never have,” Mateschitz replied when asked if Albon’s business partners in Thailand had auditioned for him.
“That is just an an invention from some people.”
Albon’s focus for next season will be on preparing Red Bull for 2022 once the new sporting and technical regulations come into play, with the driver then targeting a return to the grid in 2022.