Red Bull: Time required for Perez to ‘get up to speed’
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Sergio Perez will need time to get up to speed with his new team, but the Mexican is eventually expected to play a “really important role” in his outfit’s push to challenge Mercedes.
Perez replaces Alex Albon at the Milton Keynes-based team following the latter’s inability to perform on a par with teammate Max Verstappen.
Horner knows that snapping at the heels of the blindingly fast Dutchman when the season kicks off in Bahrain next month is a tall order for Perez.
But the Red Bull team boss believes that last year’s Sakhir GP winner can with time challenge his teammate and provide his outfit with a strong and consistent unified line-up to tackle Mercedes, something Red Bull last enjoyed when Verstappen was paired with Daniel Ricciardo.
“It’ll be very difficult to get himself up to speed in just one test, straightaway,” Horner said in an exclusive interview with Autosport.
“But he has the benefit of a lot of experience and, of course, we are expecting him to be close to Max and challenging – in a way that we had with Daniel Ricardo and Max for three seasons.
“So, hopefully, Sergio can play a real, really important role for the team in getting both cars, on a consistent basis, near to the Mercedes.”
Read also: Wolff wary of ‘much stronger’ Red Bull threat with Perez
But Verstappen remains Red Bull’s main contender to upset Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton’s domination.
The 21-year-old is on the eve of his fifth full season with RBR, having won 10 Grands Prix since his victorious debut with the team in Barcelona in 2016, a track record Horner puts into perspective.
“I think Max has done a great job,” Horner said. “I think he’s matured enormously over the last few years. And I think what he’s extracted from the car in the last couple years has been truly impressive.
“In a car that hasn’t been as good as the Mercedes [and] to have won five races in the last two years with Honda power [as well], I think he’s done a fantastic job.
“And we just as a team need to be able to do that on a more consistent basis over the course of a 23-race season.”
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