New signing Sergio Perez has vowed to ensure Red Bull wins the 2021 Formula 1 world championship if the car is up to it, setting high targets for his first year with the team.
Perez’s deal is initially only for 2021 and he is determined to make the most of what he describes as his “big opportunity” as he seeks to secure a long-term future with Red Bull.
Speaking in an interview published by Red Bull, the 30-year-old, who raced for Racing Point/Force India for the previous seven seasons, underlined his desire to repay the team’s faith in him on track by ensuring he overdelivers.
“I am always pushing to the maximum and last year I finally had a car that I could show a bit more and people saw what I am capable of, but now is my big opportunity,” said Perez. “I have to go onto the next step in all aspects and I think I’m ready for it. The only thing I was lacking was the opportunity.
“Now I have it, it’s up to me to make it work. I’m going to make sure I overdeliver. If we have a car that can win the championship, I’ll make sure we win it. And if not, and we only have a car that’s good enough for third I will make sure that we finish second.
“I hope we’re going to have a really good season and it’s the only way I can replay Mr [Dietrich] Mateschitz, Dr [Helmut] Marko, Christian [Horner], Adrian [Newey] and all the team.
“Nobody before has given me the chance to be in a big team. We’re going to hear the Mexican national anthem many times next year I hope.”
Perez claimed his first victory in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix on his 190th Formula 1 start, having spent his career in midfield machinery.
He spent time at Red Bull’s Milton Keynes F1 base this week, which includes stints in the simulator, and is confident that the 2021 car will be more competitive than last year’s having seen the team’s preparations up close.
While Red Bull was a clear second in the constructors’ championship, it only won two of last year’s 17 races and was rarely a match for Mercedes.
Perez is hopeful that not only will the new car be a boost to his and the team’s prospects, but also for the spectacle of F1.
“The car, seeing how competitive we are able to be,” he said when asked what he’s most looking forward to in 2021.
“We definitely have to close up the gap to Mercedes and hopefully be able to beat them with both cars regularly, give them a big challenge and hopefully give a better spectacle to Formula 1 itself.
“It just takes a little bit to change the whole picture. From what I’ve heard from the engineers, they’ve been working really hard this winter.”
Perez must also go up against one of the toughest team-mates in F1 in Max Verstappen, whose performance has led to Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon being dropped from the team’s race line-up during the past two years.
Perez accepts it as a massive challenge, but stresses the need for the pair to work together to help further the team’s cause.
“It’s a big challenge,” said Perez. “We all know Max, how talented, how fast and how much he has grown in the past years, how complete he is by now. So he’s definitely one of the best and one of the fastest, if not the fastest, out there in the current grid.
“It’s a massive challenge. He’s been here a long time, he knows what he needs from the car, but it’s a great challenge and I look forward to working with him and pushing forward the team.”