Sergio Perez admits finding Racing Point to Red Bull move ‘harder than expected’, but is relishing in the opportunity to race against the top drivers, as Yuki Tsunoda thanks him for his guidance.
The Mexican has had an up and down first half of the season, with a win in Baku and a podium at Paul Ricard. At the same time, a P11 in Imola after a spin along with a low-key Austrian GP, where Perez accumulated 10 seconds of time penalty, which dropped him behind Carlos Sainz, it has been a mixed bag for him.
He reckons so too, especially driving at the front. “The pressure is on, you know you have to deliver to a very high level, you are competing against the very, very best drivers,” Perez told the written media. “Every single point and the way the team works, trying to maximise every single performance point is very important. You are into the next level.”
Red Bull’s newest recruit has certainly showed his pace in the Red Bull, producing an excellent overcut in Monaco to jump several places as well as an undercut the following week to get ahead of their main championship rivals in the Mercedes.
With his impressive pace on track, Perez feels like it is the wheel-to-wheel racing with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton that he has benefited from in previous races to get used to consistently being near the front, which has also been an eye-opener for him.
“The race I had with Hamilton, literally against him, I was fortunate enough to see how good he is,” Perez stated. “The way he pushes you at the time that he does push you, and then when he saves his tyres, he’s obviously a very, very intelligent guy and the same to Max.”
While we’re still yet to see the two Red Bull’s locking horns on track, Perez also benefits from having a driver of Verstappen’s calibre on the other side of the garage. “Racing these drivers at this level definitely takes you to a new level. I think we all know in this business how good Max is,” he said. “He delivers at an extremely high level from FP1.”
With a two-week break after an intense triple-header in France followed by Austria and also the races before that, Perez is still adapting to the new machinery, which has been a bit tougher than he expected. “I’ve found it harder than expected, the change of team,” he said. “The fact that I came to such a different team in terms of power unit, car and so on, it was a big change, so it took me longer than expected to get up to speed, and I’m just getting better at it.
“I’d hoped for more by now but still the season is quite long. I think the fact that I moved teams – there are teams out there that are probably [on a similar level to Racing Point], but I went to another extreme so I think that made it a bit harder,” summed up Perez.
Now in his eleventh year of F1, Perez is considered one of the most experienced drivers on the grid and has been using his experience to help out some of the younger drivers on the grid. Being at Red Bull, he has the chance to look at other youngsters too, like Tsunoda.
The Japanese made the move up from F2 last year to alongside Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri. It has been an exciting rookie season for Tsunoda, but like Perez, it hasn’t gone as smoothly as he would have hoped. With both he and the Mexican being the new guys in the Red Bull outfit, the Honda-backed driver spoke about how supportive he has been.
“Sergio gives me a lot of advice, especially after France or Monaco he gave me messages after I had a really bad weekend,” Tsunoda said. “He messaged me advice and positive words, which makes me more motivated, so thank you to Sergio.”
He then had good words for Verstappen and teammate Gasly too: “Of course, Max as well, we have four drivers from Red Bull, we have a really good relationship and I will still keep pushing to improve and be inspired from them. I mean, I didn’t get direct advice from Pierre, like when we normally chat it’s not about racing.
“But I just watch him for data, and I can see also how he’s approaching on the radio and I am watching those things to improve myself, inspire from him and if there’s anything that I can take I just always try,” summed up Tsunoda.
After missing out on last year’s double header at Silverstone due to contracting COVID-19, Perez will be going into the British GP confident after already getting good results at low-drag circuits such as Baku and Paul Ricard. With a race win and podium already under his belt, a pole position will be the next thing for him to check off the list.
The article was written by Ashley Hambly
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