Sergio Perez guests on the F1: Beyond the Grid podcast, discussing on Red Bull start, difference from previous team, new bosses and teammate and more.

Beginning with a monologue describing Perez and his career, the first episode of F1 Beyond The Grid podcast’s new season also had light conversation between host Tom Clarkson and the Mexican in its opening minutes, before the new Red Bull driver addressed topping the timesheets in the final morning of pre-season testing.

Perez reminded Clarkson that testing can often be an unreliable indicator of eventual pace, before conceding that his RB16B ‘has good potential’, and saying that development in the season will also be vital to his and Red Bull’s title chances. The 31-year-old adds that he ‘need[s] to take [his] time’ in adapting to the new F1 team.

Perez shared that his new RB16B is ‘totally different’ to his RP20 of last year, explaining that time is found in vastly different areas with this car than with the one he drove at Racing Point in 2020. The one-time race winner also expressed that he’s enjoyed working with Red Bull’s designer Adrian Newey, whose experience behind the wheel makes him especially compatible with drivers.

Perez admitted that moving to Red Bull feels ‘weird’ after seven years with Silverstone’s outfit, but also says that he has enjoyed the new, bigger environment immensely. The 31-year-old says it was immediately apparent to him why the team had found such success from the first moment he visited the factory in January.

This was a month after his move to the team had been announced on December 18, after which he says he immediately shifted his focus to the coming season, which he approaches with great motivation as he finds the scenario scarcely believable. Asked about Helmut Marko who has traditionally overseen Red Bull recruits, Perez called the Austrian a straight-shooter – an attitude which he appreciates.

Perez revealed that he had conversations with Marko about joining Red Bull’s junior program back in 2007, as he had when racing in GP2. At the time, he was with Christian Horner’s Arden outfit, working closely with the Brit who now heads Red Bull. The Mexican says Horner has changed drastically in the time since they worked together in GP2, with the latter developing into an even better leader according to Checo.

Asked to cite a reason for his belief that his time with Red Bull will be more fruitful than that which he endured at McLaren in 2013, the Mexican argues that this comes at the ideal time in his career, and says that Red Bull is in a better place than McLaren was then. Describing his successful 2020 season, he then spoke on contracting COVID-19 early on in the year.

Perez said that catching the virus was a ‘rollercoaster’ of an experience, making him feel as though he was the ‘weird guy’ as he caught the disease before anyone else and received considerable criticism as a result. He said that the debacle was particularly stressful, coming at a time when he needed to be in the car as Racing Point looked to replace him.

The Mexican explained that, although he had offers from other teams, he sought a F1 team which would motivate him as he continues his career, and got this opportunity late in the season – when he says conversations with Red Bull got ‘serious’. He went on to speak about returning to Mexico after being announced as a Red Bull driver and having become a Grand Prix winner, and said he received a warm welcome.

Perez subsequently said his plans for his personal life in 2021 are ‘complicated’, particularly relating to travel plans. He then answered a heavier question, this one on racing as a father in F1 – something he says is difficult on account of constant travel. But the Mexican denies that his fatherhood is a hinderance to his F1 ambitions.

Perez says he looks forward to competing with teammate Max Verstappen, who denies seeing anything unusual or notable from the Dutchman thus far. The 31-year-old calls Verstappen, who is eight years his junior, a fun guy who is uninterested in F1’s politics.

Responding to a question on his greatest strength, Perez said he is especially good at ‘maximizing the weekend’, and looking at the bigger picture. Known for his ability to manage tyres, he was also asked about Pirelli’s 2021 rubber, saying that it is likely to behave similarly to that used in 2020. To end the podcast, the Mexican answered a question on his goals by saying simply that he aims to maximize his results.

Here’s where you can listen the podcast (FOM has blocked from embedding):