Max Verstappen hopes Sergio Perez’s arrival at Red Bull will help the team make life “a bit more difficult” for Mercedes during the 2021 Formula 1 season. 

The Mexican has replaced Alex Albon in Red Bull’s line-up alongside Verstappen for 2021 after Albon failed to live up to expectations in his first full-season with the Milton Keynes squad.

And Verstappen believes Perez, who claimed his maiden F1 win at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, will strengthen Red Bull’s bid to mount a sustained title challenge to Mercedes this season. 

“With Checo I always got on very well anyway so it’s a very relaxed and goo relationship already,” he explained. 

“For me, it honestly doesn’t really change that much. For the team, on the other hand, I think we always want to score with two cars as high as possible. So let’s see if that’s going better this year.

“That’s of course the goal, that’s what we all want, to try and make it a bit more difficult for, probably, Mercedes. I mean, they must be the favourites still. So let’s see how everything goes.”

Perez has driven with a Mercedes-powered car throughout the V6 turbo-charged hybrid era so far, but he will get his first experience of Honda’s power unit at Red Bull this season. 

Verstappen reckons Perez’s vast knowledge of the Mercedes power unit will also benefit Red Bull by bringing new ideas to the team. 

“His information from the years he had done at another team, different power units, stuff like that, he can transfer to the team his findings and the differences,” he said. 

“So I hope, of course, it can help the team or at least gives them kind of different ideas about a few things.”

Verstappen and Perez both got the chance to sample Red Bull’s updated RB16B for the first time during a shakedown run at Silverstone earlier this week, but the Dutchman says it is hard to judge how much progress the team has made over the winter. 

“The thing is we drive on demo tyres so it will never feel like how it’s going to feel on real tyres,” he added. 

“I never really base a lot of my findings on this. It’s more just wanting to get the car out, run a few laps, and it all felt normal to me.

“We just have to wait and see what’s happening in Bahrain once we have proper tyres on the car.

"I just wanted to get the car out and run, do our 100km, then everyone has their data, I got back into a Formula 1 car.

"Then we move to Bahrain where the real work of course to try and find the optimum set-up on the car is happening with proper tyres, because these demo tyres, you can't really read anything."