Max Verstappen wants his new teammate Sergio Perez to keep pushing him as well as be able to threaten Mercedes more regularly in 2021.
Red Bull opted to replace Alex Albon with Perez for next season after the Mexican finished fourth in the drivers’ championship and won the Sakhir Grand Prix. Albon only had two podiums to his name — both third places in Mugello and Bahrain — throughout his time at Red Bull and was often unable to challenge at the front in races, something Verstappen hopes will change with Perez to help put pressure on Mercedes.
“I think he had a great season,” Verstappen said. “He did a really good job with the car he had. It brings a bit more experience to the team. I’m excited to work together — he’s a nice guy so I’m sure we’ll get along very well. I hope with the two cars we can make it a bit more difficult for Mercedes next year.
“I don’t think it’s going to change anything from my performance; it’s more we’re going to have a second car which is capable of being up there, the whole race, trying to put a bit of pressure. For example in Abu Dhabi, at the end Alex was quite close and it just prevents, most of the time, Mercedes trying to go for an extra stop of whatever, and I’m in more difficulty.
“Most of the time when we were competitive this year, I was the only car trying to beat them and trying to do something different. But they can always do the right strategy with one of them, because they will cover me with one car.
“It was always a little bit difficult to fight them. I hope that Checo will be the one… first of all of course, push the team forward but also to keep me on my toes — which is always nice. To have a teammate pushing you, it’s exciting. Hopefully with a bit more of a competitive start, hopefully make it just more interesting and difficult for them (Mercedes) to make decisions.”
Verstappen says he also gave his opinion to Red Bull when it came to making a decision about the second seat alongside him.
“Yeah, I actually signed a contract with him — I was in charge,” he joked. “I kept his salary very low just to make sure!
“No, of course we spoke about it — I just gave my honest opinion. I think it was quite clear that throughout the whole year, it was sometimes it was quite tricky for Alex. He’s a great guy, I’m happy he’s part of the team still. But at the end of the day, it’s Helmut (Marko), Christian (Horner) and of course Dietrich (Mateschitz) making the decisions. I knew a bit before, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter.”