Sergio Perez is looking to stay at Red Bull beyond 2021 F1 season with Max Verstappen happy to have him, as Christian Horner says too early to discuss.
For Red Bull, 2021 has been their most successful start to a F1 season since 2013. Verstappen is in his sixth season with the outfit, while Perez is in his first after he was roped in to replace Alexander Albon. It is the Mexican’s best start to a season and his most competitive too, being in a top-end car.
But being on a one-year contact is a fix for Perez. To convert it to a longer deal, he wants to impress the team, he wants to do his very best for himself and he is also obliged to do his best for Red Bull, as a whole – to help them win the world championship again.
The bottom line is purely and simply, even though we are only 1/3 of the way into the season, he wants to be remain a Red Bull driver in 2022. “I think right now we are so busy with the races, three in a row, there will be some downtime, we can speak about and hopefully not take too long, because I don’t have good experience when, when you take that long, but I see it as a natural thing,” said Perez.
“Once you are comfortable in a team, working with them and the team working with you, it’s something that will happen very smoothly. And we should just take it out of the season and focus on the right stuff.” The performance of Perez at Paul Ricard was a prime example of his work so far, fighting for himself, fighting for the team and perhaps fighting for 2022.
“I think it’s always important to deliver to your maximum,” said Perez. “For the team as well. I knew that Max was arriving in France and I knew it was critical not for him to lose any track time, and also for me. He is on a different strategy, so I am going to let him by, but it’s critical that both of us don’t lose as little track time as possible.
“In the end, I ended up losing about 1.5 seconds on that lap. Max didn’t lose anything which was good. At the end, a second or two can make a huge difference for the team. I think Max would have done the same for me had it been the other way round. I see no way to do it any differently, than to maximise the full potential of the team,” summed up Perez.
Considering that Red Bull is leading the championship, it shows that Perez is doing what is expected of him and more. From a team viewpoint, it is Red Bulls best season since 2018. More of the same from him will make Red-Bulls decision easier or harder, depending opinions for 2022.
When Perez and Verstappen were paired together for this season, there was a large element of curiosity within the paddock. But so far it appears to be working fine for all concerned and he would be happy to have him in the second car next year too.
“Everything is going really well,” said Verstappen. “Of course I knew Checo before, but not as a teammate. So of course, it’s always a little bit different. I think so far it’s been great. To be able now to work together up front, to get the best results for the team, is what you want. So for sure, I would want that to continue. He’s a great teammate and we can have a lot of fun. We don’t always need to talk about cars and set-ups and stuff.”
For now, they are working fine. Shades of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris at McLaren is almost there. It’s the first time since 2019 Red Bull have two race winning, front running and fully competitive drivers. It is working well from a competitive point of view, cooperation and communication has been excellent so far.
This is something which team boss Horner is happy about too, but the Englishman notes, there is still time for contract talks and final decision. “Perez played that role perfectly in France because he was an alternative strategy to Max, and he was close enough and competitive enough obviously to make it work,” he said.
“They didn’t have the luxury of pitting into free air. The way the two drivers are cooperating and working with each other, that’s teamwork. He played the team game very well and it worked out for both of them. It’s still early days, we’re only at race seven, regarding the future. He’s doing a super job, the whole team’s very happy with him and at the relevant time we’ll sit down and have that conversation. He’s doing a great job. You can see he’s getting more and more comfortable in the team,” summed up Horner.
The story was written by Neil Farrell
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