Red Bull and most F1 fans will be hoping that the arrival of Sergio Perez at the team will make them a more formidable threat to Mercedes in the Championship battle this upcoming season.
In an interview this month, Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel warned that Perez’s F1 career could quickly be over if he is outpaced by Max Verstappen by a large margin, but he also said he believes that the Mexican could trouble his younger team-mate even more than Daniel Ricciardo did several years ago.
“I think Perez will succeed. I think he is the strongest team-mate Max has ever had,” Coronel said in an interview with Formula1.nl.
“Daniel Ricciardo was also sometimes ahead of Max in qualifying and if he can, Perez can too. Perez is still growing. He also has the necessary experience.
“Look, Max doesn’t need outside pressure, he already has an enormous urge to assert himself.
“He knows the team, the car, the people at Red Bull…there is only one who takes risks and that is Perez.
“If he sits in front of Max a few times, he’s the winner. But if he is always far behind, his career is over.”
Continuing, Coronel said he is expecting a “special” Championship battle this upcoming season and believes that Red Bull will be able to close the gap to Mercedes.
“In recent years Hamilton became World Champion, of course, way too early, well before the end of the season. But that was then. I seriously expect something special this year,” he said.
“Honda will do everything in its power with its new engine before they leave Formula 1 again. Because it has to happen now.
“I’m not saying Max will be champion, but we will hear Hamilton grumbling a lot via the on-board radio. He always does that when someone is panting in his neck. Hamilton has had it way too easy in recent years.
“Red Bull is only getting closer to Mercedes, the difference simply cannot be greater than last year.”
Sir Lewis Hamilton scored more points than both Red Bull drivers combined last year, as he cruised to his seventh title.
Mercedes have already warned that the regulation changes this year, which will result in the cars generating less downforce from their rear floor, could “knock us off our perch.”