After Sergio Perez’s maiden victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for his new team at Red Bull, he showed great appreciation for his contributions to the team and also paid tribute to him after his win highlighting his admiration for his openness and the advice given since joining the team.
After the 2020 season, Red Bull opted to look outside their driver’s programme and dropped Alexander Albon from their second seat and promoted ex-Racing Point driver Sergio (Checo) Perez to join Max Verstappen in the 2021 season, with Albon now being their reserve and test driver.
Checo had a very strong season last year with a very impressive maiden victory for the Sakhir Grand Prix starting the opening lap from plumb last to finish standing on the top step of the podium. He was able to perform some great overtakes and move up the grid with excellent pace finishing in the points consecutively for 12 races, before a DNF in Bahrain to then take the victory the following race. Despite all of his efforts, Racing Point who are now racing as Aston Martin, dropped the Mexican driver to bring in Sebastian Vettel instead. This left him out of contract and a seat for the 2021 season, before being signed to Red Bull after the last race of the season in December.
Albon faced some hard luck last season, such as losing out on a podium on the opening race of the season after a similar incident with Hamilton that shadowed the events from Brazil 2019 (Hamilton clipping Albon’s rear right tire, unfortunately making him spin off the track). But by ultimately not being able to match Verstappen’s pace in Qualifying and the race, and unable to bring the fight to Mercedes, they opted to demote the Thai driver from the second seat.
Image Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
After Sunday’s race in Baku, the win for Perez helped extend Red Bull’s lead in the Constructor’s Championship ahead of the silver arrows and with both Verstappen and Hamilton finishing out of the points, the Dutchmen continues to lead the Driver’s Championship.
Verstappen would have been on course for a victory in Baku had he not had the tire blowout on lap 46, but he showed his praise and support for his teammate as he took the top step of the podium, along with Albon sending a message of congratulations to the Mexican driver.
Speaking following his victory, Checo Perez praised the team spirit at Red Bull praising both Red Bull drivers (Verstappen and Albon), in particular Albon’s openness to him joining the team.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good team,” said Perez. “I think what Max did [when I was on the podium] was great to see. He really deserved the win, he did everything perfect that weekend, he was just very unlucky, so it was really his win.
“And Alex as well,” Perez added. “He’s putting so much work into the simulator, with the engineers.
“I remember when I came here, you wouldn’t expect from him to be so open, in a way, with me,” Perez added of Albon. “But he explained to me all the issues that he’d had, how the car works and that was very nice, since day one, to have from him, so I really appreciated that, and I appreciate the work that he’s putting weekend after weekend with the team, with the simulator.
“This is teamwork, and ultimately we are there thanks to every single individual in the team.”
Albon has continued to remain a key part of Red Bull’s F1 set-up, putting in a lot of work in the simulator which has been highlighted by team principal Christian Horner to have been a key factor in helping Verstappen’s victory in Monaco.
Besides his F1 duties with Red Bull, Albon is also set to race in DTM this year in an AlphaTauri-branded Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo.
Image Credit: Maxim Shemetov / Associated Press
And now feeling more comfortable with the car and being able to match Verstappen’s pace throughout the race weekend and most importantly on Sunday, he has highlighted how his maiden win for the team has given him a “great boost” for himself and the team moving forward.
“I feel very, very proud first of all,” said Perez of his first win for the team, and his second overall in F1. “It’s a victory that really shows the amount of work we’ve put in, since basically the first of January. It just shows that hard work always pays off, so I’m very proud and it’s a great boost for the whole team to know that we’ve got two cars that can fight. We really want to win this championship.
“[But] it’s only race six, it doesn’t really matter where we are now, it’s where we finish Abu Dhabi, so we just have to keep chipping away and get there in the end, making sure we maximise our car potential.”
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