Opinion | How Perez has become a perfect fit for Red Bull in F1 title duel

27-10-2021 09:00
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Opinion | How Perez has become a perfect fit for Red Bull in F1 title duel

With yet another podium for the Red Bull team, Sergio Perez has worked diligently over the year in order to better support his team in the championship fight. But how did he evolve himself to better suit the team and has he done so effectively?

Bringing him in

Alex Albon’s tenure at the Milton Keynes outfit had been quite the rollercoaster. With strong performances in 2019 after replacing Pierre Gasly, the Thai driver was given another year on his contract, allowing him to show his abilities with a full season in the team. However, 2020 was no easy affair. With poor performances and only two third-place finishes to his name, Albon was replaced by Sergio Perez for the 2021 season.

Some were also concerned about the age within the team. With Gasly and Albon, there was a potential to build the team for the long term. With Perez now being at 31 years of age, some were concerned at a sooner downturn in form. With him being from outside the Red Bull driver program as well, his success could have been seen as proof that the initiative had come to fail the organisation, in terms of single-seater series. 

Nevertheless, Perez’s performances were too good to discount, with a maiden win at the Sakhir Grand Prix and strong positions to challenge for podiums.

What he’s brought

And, bringing him in has turned out to be a successful decision. With one win and two podiums, he is ensuring that he is helping push Red Bull towards the constructor’s championship while aiding teammate Max Verstappen in his bid for the driver’s title. He’s been able to secure around 44% of Red Bull’s points this season, well clear of Albon’s 32% contribution. 

He’s also shown incredible fighting spirit in the season. He was vocal in his disappointment after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, vowing to further improve as the season goes on. He has also shown the strength of character, claiming his podium in the US Grand Prix while unable to access his water, which caused exhaustion and soreness in his limbs past lap 20.

Perez is also very well-grounded in understanding his position in the team. Recognising Max Verstappen as team leader and the one in the championship fight, he has frequently put up team performances to support the Red Bull squad.

Future

With Sergio Perez, Red Bull has an experienced driver. Years of fighting in the midfield will allow him to hold his own in wheel-to-wheel combat, if the 2022 regulations bring the cars under a more competitive spread. His understanding of tyres could also allow for a more in-depth understanding of degradation and trends of grips for the new tyre construction in the following years. His experience and knowledge could come of use to Max Verstappen as well. With fluidity in communication and balance between the pairing, key information and experience could be provided to the young Dutchman to further aid him in his career.

With the record-attendance race in the US, as well the upcoming Mexican Grand Prix, Perez essentially has two home races for this season. This could potentially expand to three, with Miami hosting a large Hispanic audience as well. This will allow Red Bull to greater market their energy drinks brand to the American audience, while also bringing more interest to the sport itself.

Perez has worked himself from a doubtful option to a favourite, to a major asset within the Milton Keynes team. If they’re able to retain the lineup for the next few years, this could prove to be a powerful pairing into their future.

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