Sergio Perez is under no illusions about the “massive challenge” ahead of him in taking on new Red Bull Formula 1 teammate Max Verstappen this year. 

After a stellar 2020 season in which he claimed his maiden grand prix victory and finished fourth in the championship, one place behind two-time race winner Verstappen, Perez has been signed by Red Bull to become the Dutchman’s teammate for 2021, replacing the underperforming Alex Albon. 

The Mexican acknowledged the scale of the task that faces him in going top against “one of the fastest, if not the fastest” drivers on the grid, but is aiming to give Verstappen a run for his money. 

“It’s a big challenge for myself,” Perez said. "We all know Max, how talented, how fast, how much he has grown in the in the past year, 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.

“So it’s a massive challenge, in a way. 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 the team forwards together.” 

Having changed teams for the first time in seven years, and with just 1.5 days of pre-season testing to get to grips with Red Bull’s 2021 RB16B challenger, Perez is aware he is on the back foot in terms of his preparations. 

“It’s very different in a way that it’s a new team, there are so many things that you have to learn and it just takes a bit of time,” he explained. “I will just get better and better at knowing the team, understanding what I need, it just takes a bit of time. 

“It’s building all the processes, putting all of that work into the pre-season. I’ve already spent a good amount of time with my new engineers, that’s the key to try to speed up the process.

“I’ve done a couple of days on the sim already, I have a good idea of what the Red Bull car is like, so it’s already in the back of my head. But we are in that time where nothing comes easy, you have to really learn and work to get up to speed with the car but it’s getting there.

“It’s going to be very limited testing this year with only a day and a half in the car – it’s very little. But it is what it is, it’s the same for everybody. There are a lot of drivers changing teams so it will be nice to see who adapts the fastest to a new team.”