Back in 2018, you would not be completely off the mark if you said Red Bull had the best driver pairing on the grid.
Daniel Ricciardo was still at the team and he supplemented Max Verstappen’s style.
Both drivers were largely on the same wavelength and it helped Red Bull form distinct strategies. They helped push each other and thereby bring results for the team.
Since Ricciardo’s departure, Red Bull has failed to recuperate.
Their famed driver academy has let them down. Although it is famous for producing fine drivers like four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, the new drivers have failed to make a mark.
Sergio Perez joining the team is an example of Red Bull finally looking at options outside. F1 journalist Will Buxton believes this will prove to be a huge factor in their fortunes this season.
“Red Bull’s weakness was that they always had the Sword of Damocles hanging over the second driver. Perez doesn’t have that, because he’s not tied to Red Bull training or Helmut Marko,” Buxton said.
“Checo I think is the magic card for that team. He has nothing to lose and is not under pressure from Marko. He wants to perform for himself and show that he can do that with a top car.”
Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon have both been rather flat in the sport and Verstappen has barely been stretched by them. The fact that Perez comes in with a certain pedigree will only end up pushing Verstappen. Plus, there would be so much for him to learn from his teammate, given his wealth of experience in the sport.
“If that succeeds, it will also be interesting how Max Verstappen will handle that. Will it push him, or will he make more mistakes? That dynamic will be very interesting to follow in 2021,” Buxton said.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Barretto is not so sure that Perez can be consistent enough, though, feeling that he will have certain good days, but some bad ones too.
“He will perform consistently over a year and be there when Max is not there. That’s why I don’t think he will beat Max over a whole year… Perez still has to show it in a top car, which is not so easy,” Barretto said.