Ahead of his debut season with Red Bull Racing, Mexican driver Sergio Perez says he was waiting all his career to be given the chance to demonstrate his skills at a top team.
As last season drew to a close, Perez was unsure about his future in Formula One after he was ousted by Racing Point. With the Silverstone-based team opting for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, the Guadalajara-born was looking for a new race seat.
On 18 December, Red Bull confirmed that it demoted its Thai driver Alex Albon and signed Perez to drive for the energy drink company-owned team in 2021. The 30-year-old, who made his Formula One debut driving for Sauber during the 2011 season, vows that he will try to get the best out of the opportunity he has been given by Red Bull.
„It felt great. I was waiting all my career to get an opportunity with a top team. It finally came, and I think it came at the right moment for me. So much looking forward to make it work with the engineers and with Max to push the team forward. It's a great challenge and I can't wait to get on track with the team.
"I think I can bring a lot of experience, knowledge. I've been in different teams, in different eras and I think I know what I need from myself, but I feel I can push the team forward in certain areas, just by talking to the team. I think we know the direction. There is already some good ideas that we've been sharing with the team that hopefully we can bring some performance on track.”
The Mexican, who will partner with Dutchman Max Verstappen to try and take both titles away from Mercedes, still finds it hard to believe that he will drive for the Milton Keynes-based squad that wrapped up the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in four successive years.
„I still don't believe that I'm here to be honest. When I put the Red Bull branding on myself, it's like, 'Wow'. It's something I never really considered as an option, not being part of the Red Bull programme at a young age. It's a dream come true. It's amazing.”
„It's amazing to be part of the Red Bull family. When you come here you realise straight away why they've been so successful. The amount of infrastructure they have, development and people. The organisation is tremendously high.
„Obviously, I've been seven years with a team, so it feels a bit different. It's like a dog finding a new family. I can see there is a lot of fun ahead of us. It's just a dream come true working with Adrian (Newey). The amount of engineers and the level of engineering inside this team is very impressive.”
Perez has previously driven for Sauber, McLaren, Force India and Racing Point. He won his first Formula One Grand Prix at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, breaking the record for the number of starts before a race win at 190. He is now facing his 11th year in the FIA Formula One World Championship.
„I think it definitely gave a bit of influence. I've been in the sport for 10 years and people know what I can do. It's obviously a new challenge, a new opportunity so it's a moment for me to prove it to myself that I can take it to the next step. I seem to have the machinery in my hands, so I have to make sure I make it work. Last year, I had a better package so I was able to show it more,” he concluded.