Sergio Perez has hit the track as a Red Bull Formula 1 driver for the first time as part of a private test outing at Silverstone.

The Mexican, who has been drafted in to replace Alex Albon as Max Verstappen’s new teammate for 2021, got behind the wheel of a 2019-spec RB15 as he completed his first laps in Red Bull machinery.

Red Bull is taking advantage of running a car that is at least two-years-old to allow Perez to get extra running under his belt ahead of the upcoming 2021 season, with mileage in such machinery unrestricted.

The test will provide Perez with some valuable time on track given that pre-season testing in Bahrain has been cut back to just three days - the equivalent of 1.5 days for each driver.

It will also help Perez get up to speed with Red Bull’s systems and procedures, as well as giving him his first taste of Honda’s power unit, having previously only driven the Mercedes engine during the V6 hybrid era.

It marks Perez’s first time on-track since his last appearance for Racing Point at the 2020 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last December. Since his arrival at Red Bull in January, the 31-year-old has been restricted to driving the RB16 in the simulator.

After swapping teams for the first time since 2014, Perez said he hoped his transition to Red Bull would be made easier by the fact that both pre-season testing and the first race are taking place in Bahrain, the scene of his maiden grand prix victory last year.

"I think it's certainly not a bad thing, especially given how cold it can be in Europe at that time," he explained in his first interview since joining Red Bull last month.

"I think it's a good reference. It will help me to get up to speed a bit more, because we will do the test and then we do the race there. I don't think it changes much but, I mean, it's just an adaption process that can make it a bit easier.”

Perez will return to action on Wednesday when he and Verstappen will get to sample Red Bull’s new challenger, the RB16, for the first time at Silverstone following its launch today.

 

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