Red Bull have revealed that Sergio Perez was the only driver in contention to replace Alex Albon at the Milton Keynes-based team, denying that Sebastian Vettel or Nico Hulkenberg ever had a real shot at partnering Max Verstappen in 2021.
Asked if Red Bull had seriously considered signing another driver, team principal Christian Horner replied: “No. There was no other.
“There was a brief discussion with Nico Hulkenberg. But it’s really accelerated over the last month, I would say.
“It’s remarkable and, I mean, circumstances are a little crazy, aren’t they? Nico Hulkenberg is another capable driver that should really have a seat in F1.
“But it was our good fortune that he [Sergio Perez] didn’t have a seat and that allowed us the time, without him having any other options that he could pursue as a race seat, to fulfil the season with Alex before making a decision.”
Horner explained that they felt there wasn’t a suitable candidate in Red Bull’s existing pool of driver talent, so they had to look elsewhere.
“There was no candidate on the junior program that was suitable. So we decided to go outside of the program for the first time since 2007.
“It was impossible to ignore Sergio’s performance this year. I think he’s driven a great campaign. He’s been truly impressive, particularly in the second half of the season, and he’s earned the seat.
“We want to field the strongest team we can to take the fight to Mercedes, and you’ve got to do that with both cars.
“I think Sergio has got the necessary amount of experience, brings a wealth of knowledge to the team as well, and I think will be a good teammate for Max next year,” Horner concluded.
With Sergio Perez taking Alex Albon’s seat at Red Bull, the Thai driver has been left without a place on the F1 grid next year.
However, he will remain involved in the sport, serving as Red Bull’s reserve and test driver.