Red Bull‘s team principal, Christian Horner, has spoken about the challenges of being a team-mate to Max Verstappen. Horner explained that Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon may have been brought into the high-pressure environment too soon. The team chose Sergio Perez for the 2021 season due to his experience and his ability to work well within a team. Despite the difficulty of having Verstappen as a team-mate, Horner praised Perez’s maturity and ability to handle the situation. “He won two grands prix last year, he won a grand prix the year before, he was a key part in us and winning the constructors’ world championship,” Horner said.
Gasly was promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2019 but struggled to find his form due to the car’s development around Verstappen’s driving style. He was demoted back to the sister team during the summer break. Albon replaced Gasly, but with only 12 grands prix under his belt, he too found it hard to establish himself and was eventually replaced at the end of 2020. The more experienced Perez was brought in for 2021 and, despite initially struggling alongside Verstappen, he showed improved form last year. His three wins and one pole in two seasons may pale in comparison to Verstappen, but Perez has shown himself to be a reliable pair of hands.
Horner acknowledged the difficulty of being Verstappen’s team-mate, but praised Perez’s ability to handle the situation. Despite a clash during last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, Horner believes Perez is mature enough to deal with the situation. “Max Verstappen is setting the barometer in Formula 1 currently,” Horner said. “But Checo is mature enough to be able to deal with that and handle that. And I think that he’s looking to continue to evolve and improve his own performance.”