‘Perez and Hulk could take on Verstappen’

Date published: October 31 2020

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg

Both Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg have “the mental toughness” to take on Max Verstappen should either land a Red Bull seat, says Otmar Szafnauer.

The duo, both without drives for next year’s championship, have been linked to Red Bull.

Although the team is publicly backing Albon to retain his seat, team boss Christian Horner recently admitted that there are “some quality drivers, obviously, on the market that could be unemployed for next year.

Asked specifically about Perez and Hulkenberg, he replied: “When you’ve drivers of that calibre that are on the open market then, of course, you have to look and evaluate all possibilities.”

Szafnauer, who knows both drivers well, believes they have what it takes to take on Verstappen, something Albon is struggling to find.

“Both of them have the mental capacity and the mental toughness to fit in alongside Max,” he told RaceFans, “both of them.”

Hulkenberg raced for the team under the Force India banner from 2012 to 2016 before joining Renault. He also filled in at three race weekends this season when the team’s drivers, first Perez and then Lance Stroll, fell ill.

Starting two of those three races, Hulkenberg scored 10 points.

As for Perez, he’s been with the team since 2014, scoring five podium results.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg

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The Racing Point boss added: “We pride ourselves in picking good drivers.

“I think looking back historically even – and it had nothing to do with me, I’m not taking credit – but even in the Jordan says, Michael [Schumacher] was the first to drive for Eddie [Jordan], Eddie picked good drivers.

“And in the Force India days, too. I remember when I first came here, I didn’t choose them, but Adrian Sutil was really quick. We had some good drivers here.”

Next season Perez is out of Racing Point, which will be rebranded Aston Martin.

Instead his race seat is going to Sebastian Vettel, who will partner team owner Lawrence Stroll’s son, Lance Stroll.

Szafnauer is confident that once again the team will field a strong line up.

“I think in the past, and hopefully in the future too, including Lance and Seb, we pride ourselves in picking good drivers,” he added.

“And in the Force India days, too. I remember when I first came here, I didn’t choose them, but Adrian Sutil was really quick. We had some good drivers here.”

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