Team player, but not fast enough yet

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Sergio Perez .’s Formula 1 Season
World Championship position: 4
Number of World Cup points: 190
Number of wins: 1
Best place to start: 2nd place (Emilia-Romagna)
Best result: victory (Azerbaijan)

Report mark: 6.9

With a second place in the Turkish Grand Prix and victory in the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020, Sergio Perez showed that he is more than worthy of a place in Formula 1. Nevertheless, it seemed at the end of last year that his time in the royal class was over. His old team Racing Point, for which he had been active for seven years, continued as Aston Martin in 2021, preferring to start this new chapter with a new driver. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was enlisted, leaving Perez without a seat, despite having just had his best season to date.

A week after the championship has ended, however, Red Bull Racing announces that it has signed the Mexican for 2021, with which the team brought a proven race winner on board to support Max Verstappen in a possible title hunt. Alexander Albon, who failed to control Red Bull’s volatile rear end in 2020, was kept with the team as test and reserve driver and could continue to help remedy the weakness behind the scenes. spots of the Red Bull car. However, 2021 was not the easiest year to start with a new team, as only three days of testing were scheduled in Bahrain before the first race. And now that test also fell to a large extent in the water due to a sandstorm.

So Perez, like the other drivers who had changed teams, had to get used to both his new car and new team during the early part of the season. The driver from Guadalajara indicated that he needed five races to feel completely at home in his new environment and as if the devil was playing with it, he took a victory in his sixth race for Red Bull. That first required a blowout on teammate Max Verstappen, but the second place he would otherwise have achieved in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix would have been a respectable result just as well. Perez followed the victory with a third place in France, but then followed an extremely changeable season.

In qualifying in particular, Perez often left something behind, which immediately meant that he had to make up for ground in the races before he got to where he should be. There were also some expensive mistakes, such as the spin during the sprint race at Silverstone and a crash on the way to the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix. As the season progressed, however, Perez got better and better at shaping the RB16B. Instead of simply taking over Verstappen’s set-up, as he did at the beginning of the year, he increasingly went his own way, which means that he is coming out better especially in the races.

After a difficult run there were podium places in Turkey and Austin. The third place in the Mexican Grand Prix was then the icing on the cake. Perez was the first Mexican driver to finish on the podium in his home race. The joy of the Mexican audience, the emotions of father Antonio and the endearing image of a son watching his father on the edge of the stage; it must have been at least as good a moment for Perez as his first Formula 1 win in Sakhir or Red Bull’s first win in Azerbaijan.

During the all-deciding season finale in Abu Dhabi, he received a lot of praise by driving fully for Verstappen. Several times he came on the radio to ask if he could do something for the Dutchman. That moment came after Verstappen and Hamilton had made their first pit stops. Perez had taken the lead and was able to help Verstappen by holding up Hamilton, who had a better race pace, for as long as possible. After Hamilton had found the connection with him, Perez played a starring role by having a tough duel with the Mercedes driver, allowing Verstappen to pick up again. “Checo is a legend”, the Limburger praised his teammate.

However, over the whole year, Perez did not give Verstappen the support that was expected of him beforehand. The editors of Motorsport.com Netherlands did not go further than a 6.9 when calculating his season. In 2022 he will have another chance to prove himself alongside Verstappen, with whom he seems to have built up an excellent relationship during the season. Perez will then have to go up a gear, because before 2023 he has formidable competition for the Red Bull seat with Pierre Gasly and possibly also Alexander Albon.

Editorial figures

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