Christian Horner admits that looking outside of the Red Bull Junior Team was the ‘grown-up’ thing to do when considering Sergio Pérez for the second seat at Red Bull Racing in 2021.
Red Bull gave Alexander Albon the whole 2020 campaign to earn himself a drive for the forthcoming season but results and performances were not as strong as they needed to be, and he was relegated to reserve driver.
Pérez, who was available after he lost his seat with the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team (now Aston Martin Racing) midway through 2020, was brought in as Albon’s replacement, with the Mexican the first driver since Mark Webber to race for Red Bull who was not prior a part of the Red Bull Junior Team.
“It was a tremendously difficult decision and one we were fortunate to have time to be able to fully consider – the whole season in fact,” said Team Principal Horner to Autosport.
“And it’s highly unusual for a driver of Sergio’s quality and ability to be on the market. So we just felt we would be better placed putting in a more experienced driver alongside Max as we head into 2021.
“I think it was a grown-up view that we took to go outside of the scheme and give Sergio a chance. Obviously he drove so well last year – particularly in the last third of the season.”
Horner says he believes Pérez was the right choice for the seat alongside Max Verstappen, and his experience will help move the team forward and take the fight to the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
“He’s got ten years’ worth of Formula 1 experience, I think he’s demonstrated his ability to maximise the Pirelli tyre,” said Horner. “And, of course, he just brings a whole host of experience – of the podiums he’s achieved and results he’s achieved in cars that have, until last year, been far from competitive.
“I’ve known Sergio a long time – he drove for my team in GP2 years ago [Arden International, in 2009] and I’ve always followed his career with interest. And it was just a matter of circumstances that presented itself as an opportunity and made sense for Sergio to take the seat alongside Max this year.”