Perez facing ‘best in the sport’ in Verstappen

Tom Rawcliffe
Max Verstappen Sergio Perez Red Bull Bahrain 2021

Max Verstappen Sergio Perez Red Bull PA

Sergio Perez knows he is facing a “big challenge” against team-mate Max Verstappen in 2021, but measuring up against the best is what he wants.

It looked very likely that Perez was going to miss out on the upcoming season when he finished the last campaign without a seat, having been let go by Racing Point – now re-branded as Aston Martin.

Red Bull went against their usual model of taking on a former junior driver, though, when they approached Perez and partnered him with Verstappen in place of Alex Albon.

Soon after making his race debut in 2015, Verstappen established himself as one of the most promising drivers on the grid and he has not disappointed since, finishing P3 for the past two seasons and with ten race wins already to his name.

With such a competitive team-mate, the task could well be daunting for Perez, but he is not fazed about that.

“Since I knew I was coming to Red Bull I knew that I am going to be facing a big challenge which is Max,” said Perez on the ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast.

“He’s a very complete driver. I’ve found no surprises to be honest – I’ve just found that he’s a very strong driver all around and it’s going to be a task, a big challenge for myself.

“But this is what I wanted. I wanted to measure against the best in the sport. So, it’s a great challenge and a great opportunity and something that I’m looking forward to so much.

“The way I see it is that I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose in my career. I’ve been lucky enough to have a fantastic career, so whatever comes next is great.

“I don’t see why he should be worried about me or why I should be worried about him. We’ve both come here to do the best possible job.”

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Perez got his first timed action for his new team in the Bahrain testing last weekend and impressed too, finishing top of the Sunday morning session.

Verstappen went one better and topped the timesheet for the entire weekend with a 1:28.960 lap, but Perez said the difference in weather conditions in which they raced means comparing the data is a difficult task.

“Conditions have been so different in these couple of days for both of us,” added Perez. “I haven’t seen enough, you know? He’s driven with a track that is 10-15 degrees cooler at times and vice versa, with the wind changing.

“In the first three or four races I will know more but I can already see that he is a very fast, solid driver.”

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