Perez performance in 2020 ‘impossible to ignore’ – Horner
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the decision to replace Alex Albon was an “incredibly hard one” to take, but ultimately Sergio Perez’s performance this season was “impossible to ignore”.
Albon struggled for consistency throughout the 2020 season and fought hard to bridge the gap with teammate Max Verstappen. But the Red Bull driver’s efforts and results just didn’t hold against Perez’s performance, especially in the back half of the year.
“The decision has been an incredibly hard one,” admitted Horner.
“I think all of us wanted to see Alex succeed. What we said was that we would give Alex the season, and not make any decisions before, to have a complete set of data. And that’s obviously what we did.
“But when you look at the data, and you look at the ratio between the two drivers, it was a decision that was obviously very much driven by that.
“It was just impossible to ignore Sergio’s performance in the Racing Point over the course of the year, and particularly, in the second half the season.
“So a very, very difficult decision, made even harder by the fact that Alex is a such a lovely guy.
“But he remains an important part of the team, and very much part of the team for 2021, focusing primarily on 2022 development. And, of course, he’ll be very focused in terms of making himself a contender to be back in 2022.”
Horner believes that Perez’s vast experience coupled with an “uncanny ability” to surpass his equipment’s potential bode well for his future at Red Bull.
“He’s a very rounded driver now and I think he has an uncanny ability to over deliver in machinery he has had available to him,” added the Briton.
“If you look at the amount of podiums and success that he’s had over the over the years, I think he’ll be a good addition to the team. I think it shows again, our determination to field a competitive team against Mercedes next year.”
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For a driver of any stature, having Max Verstappen sitting on the other side of a team’s garage is a daunting prospect.
But Horner insists Perez “knows what he’s going up against” regarding the blindingly fast Dutchman, and the Red Bull team isn’t expecting a rocky relationship between the pair.
“I think both parties are very realistic,” he said. “I think he knows the quality of Max.
“He’s a seasoned racer now. He has a huge amount of experience and I think he knows what he’s going up against in the quality of Max.
“He’s been in immense form in the last couple of years, so I don’t think he underestimates that challenge in any shape or form. But I think he’s absolutely delighted to get the opportunity to prove himself.
“I think we want our drivers racing close to each other, but up the sharp end. It’s clear our objective isn’t between the two drivers, it’s trying to close the gap to Mercedes.
“I think Sergio raced for several seasons with Nico Hulkenberg and I don’t remember there being any issues between those two.”
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