F1: Red Bull's Verstappen gets in shape for new season
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Sergio Perez insists he’s ready for the challenge of partnering Max Verstappen at Red Bull this season, adding he has ‘nothing to lose’ going against the Dutchman in 2021.
The Mexican, who was nearly without a drive at the end of last season after Racing Point (now Aston Martin) dropped him in favour of Sebastian Vettel, a team he saved financially back in 2018.
However, in one of the most anticipated moves of 2020 and his first in seven years, he will partner Verstappen, a driver who has quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Formula One.
“Since I knew I was coming to Red Bull, I knew I was going to be facing a big challenge in Max, he’s a very complete driver,” he told Tom Clarkson on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.
“He is a very strong driver all round and that’s going to be a big challenge on myself.
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“But It’s what I wanted, I want to measure myself against the best in the sport, So, it’s a great challenge and a great opportunity and something that I’m looking so much forward. The way I see it is that I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose in my career. I’ve been lucky enough to have a fantastic career, so whatever comes next is great.”
“I don’t see why he should be worried about me or why I should be worried about him. We’ve both come here to do the best possible job,” he added.
Perez snatched a maiden win last term for Racing Point, with victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix, the penultimate race of the season.
And now, with a team that finished second in the Constructors’ Championship, with many of the points accumulated by Verstappen, Perez says he’s keen to get going.
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“I feel very very hungry. Hungry for success, and I just know I have an opportunity that comes once in your life, and I want to make the most of it.
However, Perez admits there are a lot of unknowns heading into the new season, and after three days of pre-season testing, there’s still a lot to learn.
He explained: “It’s just testing, you don’t get carried away, you don’t know what others are doing. I just know there’s a lot of work to be done.”
“The car feels good, keeps getting better and better each time I jump in. It’s been good to get to know it, and just work our way through it.
“The car is pretty good, has good potential, but there is still a lot of work and development to be done and to be had in the races in the coming months.
“I always say it’s not so important where you start in Bahrain, it’s where you finish in Abu Dhabi.”
Red Bull were impressive over the three days, setting the fastest time overall at the Bahrain International Circuit.
And it sent a few ripples to Mercedes, who struggled throughout testing, with Lewis Hamilton admitting their rivals were looking competitive.
“Red Bull have had some really good running,” Hamilton said.
“Both drivers have been looking strong. They are going to be a different animal this year.
“A strong line-up with the two drivers and a really good car.”
Verstappen won the final Grand Prix of 2020 at Abu Dhabi and Hamilton believes he can carry that form into the new season.
He added: “Having won the last race, you can only assume they are going to be right there if not at the front at the first race and it is going to be a great long battle with them through the year.”
The season gets underway at the end of the month, with Verstappen and Perez racing together for the first time as team-mates, however they’ll have to get past the mighty Mercedes, with Hamilton fighting for a record-breaking eighth world title this season.
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