Sergio “Checo” Pérez Mendoza had a pretty great 2020 season of Formula 1, but for much of the year, his future was totally up in the air. For four months Checo had to keep racing for the pink Mercedes team knowing he’d be out of a seat, and probably out of a job, at the end of the year. Instead of letting that get him down, he turned up the wick and performed better than ever. And now, according to Dutch paper De Telegraaf, Pérez will be joining Red Bull Racing alongside Max Verstappen, displacing Alex Albon.
Updated Friday, December 18 at 10:01 a.m. Red Bull confirmed Friday morning that Sergio Pérez will join Max Verstappen in the team next season. Alex Albon will reportedly remain at Red Bull as a test and reserve driver.
Pérez finished fourth in the World Drivers’ Championship points standings when the dust settled at the end of the 2020 season, despite sitting out two rounds with positive Coronavirus tests. Not only does his 125 points total mean he outscored his 2020 teammate Lance Stroll by 50 points, but he outscored the man who would be taking his seat at the team in 2021, Sebastian Vettel, by 92 points. Interestingly he also finished 20 points ahead of Alex Albon, driving a much better funded Red Bull. Which is probably why Red Bull wants Checo as a reliable number two.
It took Sergio ten years in Formula 1 to start showing his true talents, apparently. After two years with a middling Sauber, a season aboard a sinking McLaren, and seven seasons with Racing Point née Force India, he was always fighting for points but never fighting for championships. Perhaps with a dramatically improved 2021 Red Bull chassis, the Mexican driver can show us what he’s really made of. Even in second- or even third-tier cars, Checo has managed to rack up ten podiums in his career, including a surprise victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix this year.
The 30-year-old driver still has quite a lot of talent up his sleeve. Now let’s see if Red Bull will let him unleash it, or if he’ll be playing a patient second fiddle to Max.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that before Sergio’s shock victory a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that he should turn his talents to another series if Red Bull passed on signing him. Thankfully Red Bull has apparently come to its senses, and is allegedly going to make an official announcement on Friday. I want it to be known that I’m glad Pérez is back for another season in F1, and I’m glad he is no longer faced with the possibility of taking the 2021 season off from the world’s premier open-wheel series. Though I still think he would dominate in Formula E or IndyCar.
This of course means saying goodbye to Red Bull’s current second fiddle, young Thai driver Alex Albon. Red Bull really has a way of developing young talent into F1-grade drivers and then crushing their spirit and talent before flushing them down the drain. I wonder why the team is like that?