Sergio Perez Lands a Red Bull Formula 1 Seat for 2021 [Updated]
Fans have been clamoring for Pérez to land a seat in a better F1 car since his astounding last-to-first-place win earlier this month.
The Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team will confirm Sergio Pérez as Max Verstappen's teammate for 2021 on Friday, according to a report by GP Blog. Pérez will replace Alexander Albon on the team.
Pérez currently drives for Racing Point F1, but Racing Point has already announced that they will be replacing Pérez with four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. Racing Point will become the Aston Martin F1 Teamnext year, as the billionaire father of Pérez's current teammate Lance Stroll, Lawrence Stroll, owns both the Team Soon-To-Be-Formerly Known as Racing Point as well as a sizable chunk of Aston Martin.
Ever since Daddy Stroll laid out the big bucks to attract a former world champion to the reborn Aston Martin team, many F1 fans have cried foul over the idea that Pérez would be left without a ride next year. Pérez has been a mid-field favorite in F1 for years. He clinched his first-ever win with a stunning last-to-first-place drive at the Sakhir Grand Prix earlier this month, becoming the first Mexican driver to win an F1 race since 1970.
So, it's a bit poetic that the driver spurned by Aston/Point would be picked up by the team Aston Martin dropped its Le Mans plans with when Lawrence Stroll wanted to make his kid a works driver: Red Bull. The Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar that Aston partnered with Red Bull on remained in development after the Red Bull-Aston Martin Le Mans plans were cancelled, but Aston's partnership with Red Bull Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey runs out after this year.
While an official announcement has not been made yet, GP Blog noted that the Pérez family has been feeding the rumor mill for a while. Sergio's brother Toño Pérez posted a Red Bull refrigerator to his Instagram story earlier this month, and their father Antonio Pérez Garibay retweeted a fan meme that said, "Meanwhile, in the RB offices..." in Spanish.
Motorsport-Total Chief Editor Christian Nimmervoll also reposted a trackside shot of a Red Bull can found on Pérez's brother's social media accounts.
News that Pérez is Red Bull's chosen driver for next season has been reported by multiple outlets, including Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, and Red Bull-owned German-language outlet Speedweek, which reported that Pérez has signed a contract with Red Bull.
Albon has had a rough first season at Red Bull and was given until the end of the season to prove his worth to the team by Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, Racer notes. Albon's seventh-place finish in the drivers' championship with only two podium finishes this season apparently wasn't good enough for the team, so Red Bull's been lookin' for a new driver.
According to GP Blog, Albon's replacement at Red Bull came down Pérez and German driver Nico Hülkenberg, who did not have a full-time F1 drive for this year, but drove for Racing Point in three race weekends this year when Pérez and Stroll were unable to compete. Per the report, Albon is expected to stay at Red Bull as a test driver.
Updated: Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 at 10:42 a.m. ET: Red Bull made its signing of Perez official Friday morning, confirming that he'll team with Max Verstappen in 2021. Specifics of the deal are unclear at the moment, though it's likely a season-long arrangement to see how Perez adapts to the ever-tricky Red Bull car next year.
F1 pundit Will Buxton raised the point that since Perez is the team's first outside hire since Mark Webber in 2007, he may hold an advantage that Albon, Pierre Gasly and even Daniel Ricciardo didn't have. Checo's fate isn't completely in the hands of the team's motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko, so expect him to challenge Verstappen in a way that we haven't truly seen before—assuming he has another year like 2020 ahead of him.
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