Red Bull’s second seat has been viewed as something of a poisoned chalice in recent years.
A number of young drivers have come, had a go in either the Red Bull or its sister car along the grid, and been moved on.
However Mexican Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez looks as though he might finally be capable of taking the fight to Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton – but could he actually end 2021 as the Driver’s World Champion?
Perez has quickly silenced any doubts of his ability to do what Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly couldn’t do. The Mexican has settled in well in a Red Bull that isn’t exactly renowned as an easy car to drive.
A win at Baku last weekend was Perez’ second career victory in F1 and propelled him to third in the Championship – with Hamilton and Verstappen both failing to score on a disappointing weekend for the title favourites.
But can Sergio Perez seriously be thinking of title glory at the end of the year?
He has the best car to break Mercedes’ dominance
The Red Bull is arguably the strongest all-round car on the grid right now and if they can capitalise on that advantage over Mercedes, they could finally end the Silver Arrows’ dominance of the sport in recent years.
Perez’ consistent style and ability to wring every last bit of speed – as well as reliability – from his car should stand him in good stead as the season wears on.
Even before moving to the Milton Keynes-based team, Perez had a reputation as one of the smoothest drivers on the grid and it could just help him push ahead of his more erratic teammate
Experience of a 200+ race F1 career
Checo is one of the most experienced drivers on the grid and has never really had a race-win capable car underneath him.
With 201 entries (only 197 of those would become race starts) Perez has sampled pretty much everything there is for F1 to throw at him – on and off the track.
Saturdays must get better
Although Perez has picked up his first win for Red Bull, he needs to do much better on Saturdays, with poor qualifying hindering his race chances.
Despite one or two impressive showings, Perez still needs to get closer to the front on a Saturday if he is going to have any chance of winning the title.
Until he can do that, the WDC will be just out of reach for him – but with a little bit of time at Red Bull, there’s no reason why he can’t be a serious contender in the future.