Alex Albon meanwhile has been given the role of test and reserve driver for the team next season.
News just in that Sergio Perez has recently been announced to be taking on the second Red Bull Racing seat in 2021.
Signing a one-year deal with the team, the Mexican F1 driver will be racing alongside Max Verstappen for the Formula 1 season next year. Current Red Bull Racing driver Alex Albon meanwhile will take on the role of the test and reserve driver of the team.
Breaking a long-standing Red Bull Racing tradition of promoting drivers from its own junior driver pool, Perez has earned the accolade of now being the first driver to join the team from outside their own young driver programme since 2007. Moreover, he will also be one of the more experienced drivers in recent times to join the grid, having already had 191 race starts under his belt at the end of the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“The chance to race for a championship contending team is something I have been hoping for since I joined F1 and it will be a proud moment to step onto the grid in Red Bull colours,” said Perez.
Having been in the pinnacle of motorsport since 2011, many in the paddock would have thought that Perez, while having himself a stellar season in 2020, would sadly be out of a drive for next year. That is because while he did initially have a contract with Racing Point next year, his seat was instead signed to Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 season when Racing Point rebrands to Aston Martin.
Nevertheless, with Albon’s somewhat mediocre performance in the Red Bull throughout this season, there were rumours abound on the grid of the possibility for the Mexican to replacing the young Thai in that seat for next season. This turned out to be just what happened, as particularly with Perez’s maiden victory at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, the second seat in the second best F1 team this year was suddenly open to the 30 year old racer.
As for the plight of Alex Albon, while he has managed two podiums throughout his first full year with the team, he has also been consistently out-qualified by his teammate this year and languishing in the upper mid-field all season long. The young Thai driver has therefore now been relegated to being the Red Bull Racing Test and Reserve Driver for the 2021 season, for which he supposedly will focus on simulator work, tyre testing and development of the 2022 car.
Having said that, there might be chance yet for the 24 year old to return to the top-tier of motorsport in the future. Just as Daniil Kvyat, another former Red Bull protege did when he returned to Toro Rosso/Alpha Tauri after a year-long stint as a Ferrari test driver in 2018. Then again, with the massive influx of promising drivers coming up from the junior categories in the following years, those chances of him getting another permanent F1 drive are not looking to the most promising thing in the world right now.
PRESS RELEASE: Red Bull Racing can today confirm that Sergio Perez will join the Team and race alongside Max Verstappen in the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Current driver Alex Albon remains an important member of the Team and takes on the role of Red Bull Racing Test and Reserve Driver with a key focus on 2022 development, simulator work and tyre testing.
Sergio Perez made his Grand Prix debut in 2011 and since then has become one of the sport’s most consistent performers and tenacious racers. Sergio’s recent run of form and victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix made him the favoured choice to join Red Bull Racing, initially on a one year contract.
Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Christian Horner, said: “Alex is a valued member of the Team and we thought long and hard about this decision. Having taken our time to evaluate all the relevant data and performances we have decided that Sergio is the right driver to partner Max for 2021 and look forward to welcoming him to Red Bull Racing. Alex remains an important part of our Team as Test and Reserve Driver with a key focus on 2022 development and we would like to thank him for his hard work and contribution.”