Sergio Perez: ‘I finally understand how to drive the car’

Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Drivers' Standings in 2021 and aided team-mate Max Verstappen's title success in Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.v1

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has conceded that acclimatising to his new team was a slow process, but he has vowed to continue improving in 2022.

Perez was signed by Red Bull for the 2021 season to replace Alex Albon, who was dropped after a very difficult 2020 for the Thai-British driver.

Perez had recently won his first-ever Formula 1 race with Racing Point at the Sakhir Grand Prix late on in 2020 just prior to being signed by Red Bull.

He claimed his first and so far only Red Bull victory in Azerbaijan in June, and earned five podiums throughout the year.

The Baku victory was also the first of those five, and Perez says the Red Bull RB16B took a while to get used to.

“We have to take into account the fact that I came into a very different philosophy of car compared to what I’ve been driving all my career,” Perez said, reflecting on his debut year with Red Bull.

“In that aspect, it has been a slow adaptation, but yes, just a very different car, very different engine. A lot of things to learn with a new team with no testing, basically.”

READ: Marko hails Perez: ‘He has driven many races at Max’s pace’

He admitted that reduced testing in Bahrain last year made things harder for him, but sees the positives from what turned into a strong year for the Mexican.

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“Before the first race, I did a day-and-a-half but the first day was to do aero stuff, so I did nothing before the first race. So many aspects have to be considered but all in all, it’s a promising season.

“Obviously, I will have hoped for more, but it is what it is. I just have to keep pushing.”

Sergio Perez with his Red Bull team and car in 2021.v1

The 31-year-old believes that he will only improve further together with his team.

“We had some positives, we had some negatives, but we will only get stronger the longer we are together.”

Three of Perez’s podiums came consecutively in the latter stages of the year, and he was asked if he wishes he had been able to produce podium pace earlier.

“Of course,” he replied, adding: “but then there were various small things that would have transformed our weekend or our season.”

Perez reckons he has now got to grips with the driving style needed to get the best out of his Red Bull car, and he admitted he had to work hard to get used to the car last year.

“[We were] just trying things, just working throughout. Right now, I finally understand how to drive the car, how to exploit the maximum out of it. That’s why the results were a lot better.”

Perez finished fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, but was unable to help guide the team to glory in the Constructors’ Championship.

He did, however, hold up Sir Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, helping team-mate Max Verstappen beat the Briton to the Drivers’ Championship.

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