Sergio Perez believes that Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen would initially struggle if he were to join Mercedes.
Perez scored 10 podiums in eight seasons with a combination of Sauber, Force India, and Racing Point, and claimed his first Formula 1 win at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix with the latter, securing him a drive at Red Bull for 2021.
He was to replace Alex Albon, who had been struggling that season after taking over from Pierre Gasly midway through 2019.
The Frenchman endured a torrid 12 races alongside Verstappen, who won two grand prix and scored five podiums during their time together, while Gasly’s best finish was fourth at the British Grand Prix.
Albon’s promising performances earned him a shot in 2020, but poor pace and a number of critical errors put pay to his chances of being retained for last year.
Perez stepped in, and managed to out-qualify the Dutchman in the second race of the season in Imola before falling backwards during the race.
The Mexican oscillated in form throughout the year, but managed something his two three predecessors did not – a race win.
Following a frenetic Azerbaijan Grand Prix that saw a puncture result in a scary crash for Verstappen, before a brake settings error put Sir Lewis Hamilton out of the running, Perez claimed the race win ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Gasly, who now drives for junior team AlphaTauri.
Four more podiums would follow for the two-time race winner, but the Mexican failed to score points in six of the 22 races, ultimately seeing him end the season fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.
His Red Bull team were narrowly beaten to the Constructors’ Championship by Mercedes, but they pushed the champions harder than anyone else has since the turn of the hybrid era in 2014.
The 31-year-old admitted that he had to take time to understand “how to drive” the Red Bull car, but affirms that this is the case for every driver who joins a new team.
Daniel Ricciardo ended 2021 45 points adrift of less experienced team-mate Lando Norris in his first season with McLaren, and was out-qualified 15-7 by the Briton.
However, he did manage to secure the team’s first win since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix.
With the eight-time race winner needing time to settle in at the Woking-based team, Perez believes that even Verstappen would require an adjustment period were he to jump into the Mercedes, owing to the different car-specific skills a driver must develop.
“It would be the same if Max [for example] had gone to Mercedes,” Perez told Motorsport Magazine.
“The cars are just very different. They set similar lap times, but the way they get their lap time is totally different,” added the Mexican.
Verstappen became Red Bull’s second world champion after he beat Sir Lewis Hamilton to the title last year, and the team have retained their driver line up for 2022.
The Dutchman has previously said that he wants his team-mate to be given a fair shot at the championship by Red Bull in 2022.