Column | F1 2021 is a massive year for...Sergio Perez

19-01-2021 12:00
Column | F1 2021 is a massive year for...Sergio Perez

2021 was supposed to be a massive year for Formula 1, perhaps the biggest in a generation. The rule and regulation book was set for a reprint as Liberty Media were due to harvest the first crop of fruits from their takeover deal. But those fruits will remain covered whilst the coronavirus pandemic grips the world.

Still, F1 in 2021 has plenty of narratives for fans to cling to. In this series on GPblog, we take a look at who has a massive 12 months ahead of them in Formula 1. Next up, Sergio Perez. This series previously included Lando Norris (click here to read), Valtteri Bottas (click here to read) and Alpine F1 team (click here to read).

A big 2021

Looking from the outside, it seems as if Sergio Perez’s career has been leading up to this moment. A chance at a top team who will be more than capable of achieving pole positions, podiums and race wins.

All of the lessons, and experience, the Mexican has gathered over the last decade will be tested in the Red Bull. He has a real chance to prove just how good he can be. Perez will start the season as a 31-year-old. Bang in the middle of the age range often labelled as the peak or pinnacle of your career.

Is this a one-hit-wonder?

Christian Horner, Helmut Marko and the rest of the team are a stubborn lot. And fair play to them, over the years the Red Bull junior set-up has worked wonders. Sebastian Vettel a world champion and Max Verstappen seemingly being the strongest driver of his generation. Naming just two examples.

For the first time since Mark Webber’s signing, Red Bull look outside of this set-up. Although Webber ended up spending more than half of his career at the Austrian team, it’s palpable that Perez won’t be alongside Verstappen for long.

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Earlier this week, Red Bull confirmed their junior team lineup for 2021. They added another Japanese driver Ayumu Iwasa. And several drivers are competing in Formula 2 such as Juri Vips and Liam Lawson to name just a couple.

Combine that with Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings at AlphaTauri. Red Bull are actually looking well-stocked for the future. And ahead of the contract announcement in December, Perez made it clear that he already has options for 2022.

So it looks like 2021 is the only chance Perez will get in a top team independent of how well he performs. Potentially 2022 if he’s lucky, but it’s looking extremely unlikely. A one-hit wonder for Perez. It’s do or die time for him.

GPblog’s prediction - He must grasp this chance

Given that he’s only going to get 12 months, he has to make it count. It's a massive year for him. Plenty of drivers, even himself from his brief period at McLaren, look back at chances like this and have serious regrets.

He gets 12 months to prove that he is one of the strongest drivers in the current field. A chance to elevate his statistics, and who knows maybe open the door to a team on the rise following the rule and regulation changes in 2022.

Perez is capable of this, but it depends on how the Red Bull car behaves during the season. Last season the rear was unstable, and it was tricky car to get to grips with. Perez isn't helped by the fact that pre-season testing will be significantly shorter and the gap between the first two races is the second-longest gap on the calendar.

It might take him a while to get to grips with the car, but he will pull through and get consistent top four places in qualifying and the race during the second half of the season.

Perhaps what’s more important to Red Bull is his driver feedback. Perez will use all his experience to help fine-tune the balance of the Red Bull car. Verstappen is very experienced, particularly for his age. But he has only really competed in the Red Bull.

Perez has been with several teams, and that driver knowledge will be valuable for Red Bull.

 Predicting the entire 2021 Formula 1 World Championship


How many podiums will Perez get in 2021?

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