Sergio Perez has vowed to make sure he “over-delivers” on the potential of Red Bull’s Formula 1 car in his maiden season with the team. 

The Mexican finds himself drafted in to replace Alex Albon as Max Verstappen’s new Red Bull teammate with his confidence at an all-time high off the back of his strongest season in F1 that was capped off by a sensational first career victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix

Despite the second Red Bull seat alongside Verstappen being considered as something of a poisoned chalice for its occupants of late - with Perez becoming the fourth different driver in four years to fill the spot - he is determined to make the most of his opportunity to finally drive front-running machinery and battle it out with the sport’s very best. 

Speaking to media including Crash.net following his first run out in Red Bull’s new RB16 during a shakedown test at Silverstone this week, Perez made it clear he is not afraid to invite added pressure onto himself by setting the bar high as he outlined his goal to “over-deliver the car performance”. 

“If we’ve got a car good enough to win the championship, [the goal is] to make sure I win it,” said a bullish Perez. “And if we’ve got a car that is good for second, make sure I win. Over-deliver the car potential.”

Asked why he is so confident that he can achieve his bold objective, Perez confidently explained it is because it is what he has been doing best for a number of years now in F1. 

“It’s just because that’s a way I approach every year,” he added. 

“I try to over-deliver, to push the team forward, try to push the car forward, weekend after weekend. It’s a long season, consistency is key, that’s a way I approach every single year. 

“I don’t think now I’m at a top team it changes anything, I have to do the same. And if I do that it means I delivered.” 

Perez appears to have no concerns that his Red Bull stint could go a similar way as Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly, and most recently, Albon’s did. This is, after all, a driver who was at peace with the prospect of potentially being without a drive for this year before he earned his unlikely-yet-deserved break. 

At 31, Perez has established himself as a very capable driver as one of the strongest and most consistent performers in the midfield. Had he ended up on the F1 sidelines for 2021, he would have been able to bow out of the sport with his head held high, even if it would have felt massively unjust.  

Perez is fully aware of the scale of the opportunity that has come his way - it is one he has been grafting towards and patiently waiting on for over 10 years. And Perez’s new-found, almost zen-like state of mind has left him with a freedom that he can attack 2021 head-on with no regrets. 

“I see it as an opportunity to develop to my potential,” he said about his one-year deal at Red Bull. “Having a top car, top team, it’s an opportunity that will definitely open many doors. We will see what happens afterwards. 

"I have to make sure that I do the same as in the past, to deliver, to do the maximum, make the most of any opportunity that I’m given and just enjoy [it].”

After Albon failed to live up to expectations last season and proved no match for Verstappen, Perez believes his vast experience in F1 will be a key advantage in helping him deal with the pressure and his bid to assert himself as a more formidable opponent to the Dutchman. 

Perez’s challenging experience during a difficult one-year spell at McLaren amid the Woking outfit’s decline in competitiveness in 2013 served him particularly well. It was a key lesson in how to handle the weight of expectation at a big team, and has ultimately left Perez convinced he is more than ready to take on Verstappen. 

Asked how big a weapon his experience will be going up against Verstappen, Perez replied: “I think it is quite a big one, to be honest. 

“You’re here and when things don’t go well, pressure hits you hard. And when you are experienced and when you’ve been through it before, it just makes you focus on the right stuff.

“Technically you develop a lot of skills as well throughout your career. I just think the opportunity comes at a great point of my career and it’s going to work out well.” 

Since Perez got the call following the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in mid-December, his life has been a whirlwind in his quest to fast-track his familiarisation process having changed teams for the first time in seven years. 

His task has been made all the more difficult by the fact F1 has just had one of its shortest off-seasons in history. Since his arrival last month, Perez has been putting in the hours in the team’s simulator and embedding himself into Red Bull’s state-of-the-art facility at Milton Keynes.

Perez revealed he has successfully been able to adapt his driving style to suit Red Bull’s F1 cars in the simulator despite having to adjust in extremely limited time. 

This week he was able to put that into practice into a live environment, turning in his first laps in Red Bull machinery at Silverstone to further become accustomed to the team’s procedures, first in the 2019-spec RB15, and then in the new RB16B.

He will have just one-and-a-half more days behind the wheel of the RB16B in next month’s shortened pre-season test in Bahrain before the campaign gets underway, but Perez is confident that he will be able to reach his level quickly.

“It’s been very hectic,” Perez acknowledged. “Once I got the contract done, it was very late in the year but the motivation was extremely high.

“I basically haven’t had a holiday. I’ve been working flat out on my fitness trying to be as ready as possible and with the engineers.

“To the factory backwards and forwards, spending the time and doing the things that matter to try to be up to speed as soon as I get into the Bahrain test.

"I am confident in my abilities,” he continued. “It will take a bit of time before I get on top of everything but I don’t see why with time I can’t. 

“Once I am on top of all the things I need to know on the car I can be at my [maximum] level.”

 

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