Giedo van der Garde expects Sergio Perez to push Max Verstappen hard, and thinks that will be good for both the drivers and the team.
Perez is set to go head-to-head with Verstappen at Red Bull next season after being chosen to replace Alex Albon.
The Dutchman has not faced a proper challenge from a team-mate since Daniel Ricciardo left at the end of 2018, but Verstappen’s compatriot Van der Garde thinks Perez will change that while also making life easier for him in other ways.
“Sergio can help Max. With his speed in the race, he can be of strategic value to Max and Red Bull, but Max also just needs a team-mate who will challenge him every now and then,” Van der Garde told formule1.nl.
“He now gets someone next to him who could be faster in turn one, six and seven or wherever, and that triggers Max. In short: this is the only and correct decision.
“I think Max will be put on edge by Pérez. At least in the races, because in qualifying he normally doesn’t really have a chance. I don’t think he is as fast as Max, but it will be close.
“That is only good because, with someone there, you can make strategic choices in the races in a duel with Mercedes. Last year, Max always had to do it alone, while Mercedes always had two men in the front.
“With Pérez there, they can play [with strategies] more. That makes it an interesting battle.”
Van der Garde himself was Perez’s team-mate in GP2 back in 2010. That year, Checo got the better of him, scoring 32 points more.
The former Caterham driver says that, while Perez was not great in qualifying, he excelled in races and believes the same applies today.
“A good guy and a hard worker. I saw that in GP2 too,” he added.
“There he made the difference, especially in the races. In qualifying he was okay, but I was sometimes quite a bit faster, only then he sometimes had those races where he passed you and you thought ‘how?’
“I think it’s mainly in his driving technique. He’s not the type that in one round – bang! – gets everything out, although he’s got better at it.
“I really think he has made a step in qualifying but as I said, he has a certain driving technique that is particularly well reflected in the races. He is really good at saving tyres, he always has that under control.”