Sergio Perez has warned Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes that if Red Bull supply him with a strong enough car he will produce the performances needed to deliver a Constructors’ Championship. The Milton Keynes-based outfit have watched Mercedes dominate Formula One since 2014 and are plotting to restore themselves as the paddock’s team to beat.
Red Bull won four straight double titles between 2010 and 2014 with Sebastian Vettel winning four successive Drivers’ Championships before moving to Ferrari.
In F1’s hybrid engine era, Hamilton has won six of seven titles, with Nico Rosberg also victorious in 2016, meaning Mercedes have won every available Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship in the past seven seasons.
Max Verstappen has led the Red Bull charge but has had to settle for third-placed finishes in the standings behind Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton in the past two seasons, although the Dutchman has won two races in each.
The 23-year-old will again look to thwart the Brit, who is looking to win a record-breaking eighth world title in 2021 provided he signs a new contract with Mercedes, this season and will benefit from the added help of newcomer Perez.
The Mexican ended fourth overall last year after picking up his maiden F1 win at the Sakhir Grand Prix with Racing Point and has replaced Alex Albon, who failed to prove he could rival Verstappen for the Austrian energy drink company and consistently lacked the pace of his team-mate.
Perez will hope to prove he can better match Verstappen and improve Red Bull’s chances of downing Mercedes across the upcoming 23-race season, which begins in Bahrain on March 21.
And Perez has made it clear that if Red Bull can provide him with a car capable of consistently rivalling the Silver Arrows, he will do his utmost to end their monopoly of the sport.
“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,” Perez said.
“I am always pushing to the maximum and last year I finally had a car that I could show a bit more and people saw what I am capable of, but now is my big opportunity.
“I have to go onto the next step in all aspects and I think I’m ready for it. The only thing I was lacking was the opportunity. Now I have it, it’s up to me to make it work.
“I’m going to make sure I overdeliver. If we have a car that can win the championship, I’ll make sure we win it.
“And if not, and we only have a car that’s good enough for third, I will make sure that we finish second.”
He added: “We definitely have to close the gap to Mercedes and hopefully beat them with both cars regularly.
“It just takes a little bit to change the whole picture, and I’ve heard from the engineers they’ve been working really hard this winter.”
Perez is also acutely aware of the battle he faces against Verstappen, who out-qualified Albon 17-0 and finished on the podium in 11 of the 12 races he completed in 2020.
“It’s a big challenge for myself. We all know Max – how talented, how fast, how much he has grown in the past years, and how complete he is now,” continued the 30-year-old.
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“He is definitely one of the best and one of the fastest, if not the fastest out there in the car on grid. It’s a massive challenge.
“In a way, he’s been here a long time, he knows what he needs from the car and I look forward to working with him and pushing together forward as a team.”
Perez and Verstappen’s Red Bull boss Christian Horner meanwhile said to RacingNews365 this week: “I think he [Verstappen] is the best [driver], yes. George Russell’s performance at Mercedes confirmed that for me.
“Max and Lewis stand out for me, but while we absolutely should not be blind to all that Hamilton has achieved, he does have access to a good package while Max has to get more and more out of his car.
“You can see that by the fact that a driver from Williams qualified directly on the front row of the grid and almost won the race.
“If someone had to get into Max’s car, if he had coronavirus, they would never reach his level of performance.”
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