Perez feels Red Bull is ‘just a different category’

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez drives his Red Bull. Hungary July 2021

Sergio Perez leaves the pits in his Red Bull RB16B during a practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hungary July 2021

Stepping up to Red Bull was “just a different category” for Sergio Perez, both with the car and how the team operates.

Dropped by Racing Point at the end of last season, Perez was facing the end of his Formula 1 career only to be snapped up by Red Bull.

Climbing into one of the top cars on the grid, the Mexican driver has bagged a race win, Azerbaijan, and a podium result at the French Grand Prix.

The move, though, has not been plain sailing with Perez revealing he has had to change his “philosophy” to adapt to the RB16B.

“The way you extract the lap time in this car, the way you are fighting when you are in dirty air, compared to what I was used to do, and how you drive the races, is very different,” Perez said to Autosport.

“Plus, it’s how you look after the tyres. Every car has different requirements of rim heating, and rim cooling, with very specific details as everything is linked to the tyres.

“So it’s just a different world, to be honest. It’s like I’ve changed category to be very honest. It’s just a different category.”

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He added: “It’s a massive opportunity, but yeah I also am aware that I have changed a lot the philosophy.

“I went from one team to a very different team in terms of how the car achieved the lap time, and it’s been harder than expected, changing teams, you know, especially coming to a team that is already fighting for the championship.

“It’s great to be in a team that is fighting for the championship but, at the same time, it’s difficult because you don’t have that adaptation that when you are fighting for the championship you’re fully engaged with the car. I didn’t have chance to do that.

“I’m just learning a lot, you know, from the car, and from the team. I came to a very different team philosophy, engine and car, so I’m just getting on with it and, with time and just improving, things are getting better.

“But it is not an easy process and still it’s an ongoing process. Coming into a new structure, a structure like Red Bull, it’s very big, and it’s not easy to find your feet. But it’s getting there.”

The two-time grand prix winner, who trails his team-mate Max Verstappen by 104 points to the Dutchman’s 187, admits it is still taking him “too much time” to get into the swing at each grand prix weekend.

“I’m still needing a lot of time when we go to a new circuit,” he said.

“I take like the whole Friday to be there in qualifying, and that is just chipping away through qualifying. Then it’s just too late when you have such a deficit through Friday.

“Eventually I get there, but it just takes me too much time to get on top of that.

“I’d say it’s a faster car, but just the way you extract the lap time is very different.

“At the end of the day, all F1 cars come very close together, but it’s just the way you extract the maximum lap time from each car that is very different. And I went to a car that is very different.

“I find that with the Red Bull car, you have a very narrow window, where it operates. It is very important to stay in that window because if you go out of it, it might feel a bit more comfortable but it’s not necessarily a faster car. So I think it’s a lot of me adapting to the car.”