Sergio Perez has admitted that securing a Red Bull drive alongside Max Verstappen is now his only option to remain in Formula 1 for 2021, and says he would relish the chance of nailing down the “hot seat”.
Perez has only five races remaining with Racing Point before leaving the team, but the Mexican – sixth in the championship and one of the form drivers of 2020 – is as dependable an F1 free agent as they come and has been linked with several teams.
Williams speculation had been growing in recent weeks but after the Grove outfit reconfirmed that their drivers would be staying put, Perez is focused on Red Bull – who have one of five seats left available in F1 and are considering external options with Alex Albon struggling.
- Red Bull & Alex Albon: What now for F1 2021?
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Asked if it was Red Bull or nothing for 2021 by Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz, Perez replied: “I definitely see it that way.
“I want to continue in Formula 1 but I always said, it has to be the right project, the right package and everything has to click. It’s not like my first or second year in the sport, I’ve done 10 years in it so as much as I want to continue, I know it has to be the right package to carry on.”
He added in Friday’s Imola press conference that Red Bull “are an option until they’re not confirmed”, and also told F1 why he would enjoy going up against Verstappen, even after Pierre Gasly and Albon’s woes.
“It’s a bit of a hot seat, no?” he said. “But it’s an opportunity to be with a top team, that are fighting Mercedes pretty much every single race.
“They’re still a bit far, but if there is a team that has the potential in the short-term to fight Mercedes, it’s definitely Red Bull.”
Does Perez have Red Bull chance? Wants answer soon
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has insisted that the team want to retain Albon for 2021, but says the 23-year-old must improve before the end of the season to secure a new contract.
Albon has been comfortably beaten in every qualifying session this season by Verstappen, while he only has one podium to his team-mate’s nine.
Red Bull will look outside their driver programme for a replacement, should they need one, with Gasly confirmed at AlphaTauri for another year despite his strong form. That brings Perez, as well as fellow free agent Nico Hulkenberg, into contention.
But Perez says he needs an answer soon.
“The only issue I have right now is timing,” he said. “Time is not on my side and I have to definitely be making decisions pretty soon. We’re getting close to the end of the year and that might determine a few things.
“The season is coming to an end so I think it’s important for teams to know what’s going on, what’s happening going forwards, and for drivers too. I’m looking at all my possible options, and I cannot take too long anymore.”
He continued to F1: “It’s important to know what I want and I think I’m pretty clear in my head of what I want to do. It will just depend if I’m able to get it soon enough or not, because I will have to be making decisions on my side pretty soon. As we may know in this business if you wait too long you don’t end up with anything.
“It’s clear. I want to carry on in the sport and it has to be with a strong project.”
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