Red Bull driver Max Verstappen may be a team player, but his goal is to destroy his teammates in Formula 1.
It is an ominous warning for the experienced Sergio Perez, who is replacing Alex Albon after Albon struggled to keep up with Verstappen at Red Bull last year.
“The lack of consistency was the decisive factor,” senior team advisor Helmut Marko told media outlet Auto Motor und Sport when asked about the DTM-bound Albon’s demise. “Sometimes Albon was up to six tenths away from Verstappen, and you can’t win a world championship like that.”
Marko said a major bonus for Red Bull-Honda is that former Racing Point driver Perez arrives with key experience of Mercedes’ title-winning engine.
“Performance, responsiveness, driveability—he can give a lot of input,” Marko said.
The Verstappen-Perez pairing gives Red Bull the drivers who finished 3-4 in the F1 Drivers’ Standings in 2020 behind only the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
From Verstappen’s perspective, though, there will be no warm welcome for Perez, as he is confident that Perez won’t be standing in his way of a championship bid.
“In the end, I beat everyone, and that’s good,” Verstappen told Netherlands-based media outlet Ziggo Sport. “As my father always says—you have to destroy your teammate.”
“In the end, I beat everyone, and that’s good.”
Verstappen said 30-year-old Perez will have the same attitude, with Marko confirming that there will be no ‘No. 1’ driver at Red Bull in 2021.
“Of course. You have to be faster than your teammate,” Verstappen said. “I know that Sergio is aiming for the same. I think that’s good, because it’s the only way to bring the team forward with both cars, as was the case at Red Bull with Daniel (Ricciardo).”
Currently, Perez, who is in Mexico, is unable to get into the Red Bull simulator due to British COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ll only know how good our driver pairing is compared to Hamilton-Bottas once he gets in our car,” said Marko. “But Perez’s form curve in the second half of last year was a steep upward trend. He always puts himself in a good position and has a good feel for the car and the race.”
Red Bull signed Perez over not only Albon but also veteran Nick Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg started two races last year as a substitute driver for both Perez and Lance Stroll at Racing Point. Peres and Stroll both missed time in 2020 after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.
“Perez was also able to prove himself throughout the season, which was not the case with Hulkenberg,” Marko said.
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