F1: Verstappen puts in hard graft ahead of new season
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Formula One star Max Verstappen has been warned to be wary of new Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez. The Mexican has joined Verstappen after leaving Racing Point last season as team principal Christian Horner looked to improve the quality of the driver lining up alongside the Dutchman.
Perez has scored 706 points and 10 podiums since making his Formula One debut in 2011 for Sauber, before going onto drive for McLaren, Force India and most recently Racing Point.
It was in the ‘pink panther’ car of the Racing Point that the 31-year-old scored his maiden win in the sport, in the Sakhir Grand Prix last season.
That win helped Perez to finish fourth in the 2020 driver’s championship, one place below Verstappen, with the Dutchman’s Red Bull team-mate Alex Albon finishing a disappointing seventh.
And with Perez being let go by team owner Lawrence Stroll as he rebranded Racing Point Aston Martin and signed Sebastien Vettel, Horner pounced to boost his team.
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After disappointing seasons for the number two Red Bull car from Albon and Pierre Gasly before him, Perez should provide stronger competition.
Verstappen last had a race winner as a team-mate when Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo was part of the team, with the current McLaren man claiming seven wins during his time at Red Bull.
But now Verstappen has been warned to finally expect a strong test when the season gets underway in Bahrain.
That is because World Touring Car Championship driver Tom Coronel believes that Perez is a better driver than Ricciardo.
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“I think that Pérez will succeed. I think it’s the strongest teammate Max has ever had,” Coronel told Dutch website formule1.nl.
“Daniel Ricciardo was also sometimes ahead of Max in qualifying and if he can, Pérez can too. Ricciardo has had its day, Pérez is still growing.
“He also has the necessary experience, eh. Look, Max doesn’t need outside pressure, he already has an enormous urge to assert himself.
He knows the team, the car, the people at Red Bull. There is only one who takes risks, and that is Pérez.
“If he sits in front of Max a few times, he’s the star. But if he is always far behind, his career is over.”
Red Bull took part in a limited launch of their challenger for this season, the RB16B, last week, releasing images of the car rather than doing a full reveal.
The Austrian team last won a world championship in 2013 with Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber as their drivers, but finished as runner’s up last year.
Fans will get their first proper sighting of Perez and Verstappen in the RB16B when testing begins on 12 March.
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