Sergio Perez is one of the most respected drivers on the Formula One grid and with his brilliant tyre conservation and his experience of fighting on track, it makes him a solid choice for any team on the grid.
After being dropped by Racing Point at the end of last season, many believed Perez would be without a seat for 2021, but Red Bull stepped him and offered him a race seat for this season.
But with the season nearly at an end, we need to ask the question, has Perez been a success at Red Bull?
If we take a look at pure stats, Perez has got one victory and five podiums over the 19 races, with only the Saudi Arabian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix still to take place.
For a driver who is with a team going for the World Constructor’s Championship, it may not sound the best return on Red Bull’s investment, but when he hasn’t been on the podium he can usually be found in the top half of the points and this is what is helping Red Bull in their title fight.
If we consider Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to be the number one drivers for their respective teams, then Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez are the second drivers for their teams.
This means that we need to compare Perez to Bottas rather than Hamilton or Verstappen to get a clearer picture of how well he is doing this season.
Bottas currently has one victory and ten podiums, with four pole positions to go along with this. He has been doing exactly what Mercedes needs from him. Although when both Bottas and Perez are mentioned in the same conversation, it’s usually the Mexican driver that comes out on top as the driver many think is better.
Perez is doing a solid job at Red Bull in one of the most debated seats in the sport. Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon have occupied the seat over the past two seasons and struggled, with the difference between their car and Max Verstappen’s car being quite considerable.
It has been very clear that Red Bull have been prioritising Verstappen, but what they need is an experience second driver that is able to challenge for a late fastest lap or beat their rivals and Perez is one of the best on the grid for that role.
His win in Azerbaijan was a reward for his early-season form and despite not getting any notable results before that, he did start on the front row in his second race for the team.
He followed that up with a third-place finish in France and never really looked back from that point.
He was handed a new contract for 2022 just before the Belgian Grand Prix and to mark that moment he scored his worst result of the season from the races he finished, ending the race down in 19th place.
However, that race shouldn’t even be called a race because it was red-flagged and after a few laps under the safety car it was called off and half points were awarded. Perez would start the race down in 19th place and from the pit lane but was unable to move from his position as there was no green flag running.
We saw the crazy support that Perez got at his home race in Mexico and Red Bull would have loved the extra cash going into their bank accounts with the amount of merchandise purchased.
He has helped Red Bull remain in the title fight and that is all that he needed to do this season. Max Verstappen is very clearly Red Bull’s number one and therefore the team’s focus will be primarily on him.
Has Perez been a success at Red Bull? Well, he certainly hasn’t been a disappointment. I think going into the season there was a lot of hype and expectation about Perez potentially being in with a shot at the title. This very quickly fell away with the team’s clear focus on Verstappen, but Perez has always been in the mix for a spot on the podium and has brought the level of consistency that the team were hoping for.