Verstappen: Hopefully Perez can push the team forward

Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen says his is looking forward to working with new Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in the 2021 Formula 1 season, with the Dutchman hoping he can help them challenge front-runners Mercedes.

Announced on Friday to be replacing Alexander Albon at the energy drinks outfit, Perez comes in to the team having taken his first F1 victory in a career-best season with Racing Point.

In contrast, Albon struggled mightily for form in 2020, with his lack of pace relative to Verstappen costing the latter in his battles with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, which the Dutchman now hopes will be far more even.

“I don’t think it’s going to change anything to my performance but it’s more that we’ll have a second car which is capable of being up there as well the whole race and trying to put a bit of pressure on,” he explained.

“For example, like in Abu Dhabi, at the end, Alex was quite close and it just prevents, most of the time, Mercedes trying to go for an extra stop or whatever, and then I’m in more difficulty.

“Most of the time when we were quite competitive this year, I was the only car trying to beat them, and tried to do something different. But they can always do the right strategy with one of them, because they will always cover me with one car, so it was always a bit difficult to fight them.

“And I just hope that Checo will be the one to first of all push the whole team forward, but also keep me on my toes, which is always nice. To have a teammate pushing you, it’s exciting.

“Hopefully we can, with a bit more of a competitive car from the start, make it just a bit more interesting and difficult for them [Mercedes] to make decisions.”

Having come into the 2020 season with ambitions of challenging for the driver’s championship, Verstappen instead finished a distant 133 points behind winner Lewis Hamilton in third, and admitted he had been consulted on the change of teammate.

“Of course we spoke about it and I just give my honest opinion,” he said. “And I think it was quite clear that during the whole year it was sometimes quite tricky for Alex. He is a great guy honestly and I’m happy that he’s part of the team still.

“But at the end of the day, of course it’s Helmut [Marko] and Christian and of course Dietrich [Mateschitz] making the decisions.

“Of course I knew a bit before. But at the end of the day that doesn’t matter.”