Horner: Red Bull took "grown-up" call to look outside juniors

Christian Horner says Red Bull made a “grown-up” decision to look outside its junior drivers when deciding on its 2021 Formula 1 line-up, where Sergio Perez replaces Alex Albon. 

Horner: Red Bull took "grown-up" call to look outside juniors

Perez is the first non-Red Bull junior to race for the energy drinks company’s eponymous team since Mark Webber was hired to race alongside David Coulthard in 2007. 

Since Sebastian Vettel replaced Coulthard after the Scot retired from F1 at the end of 2008, Red Bull has only run drivers that have been promoted from its Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri sister squad.

But since Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of 2018, the team has quickly replaced the two drivers brought in to race alongside Max Verstappen – Pierre Gasly and Albon – who both struggled to close a significant pace gap to the Dutchman. 

Speculation over Albon’s Red Bull future was high throughout 2020, with the team announcing after the season had finished that it had demoted him to a reserve/development driver role and brought in Perez, who was facing time out of F1 after losing his Racing Point/Aston Martin drive to Vettel. 

“It was a tremendously difficult decision, and one that we were fortunate to have time to be able to fully consider - the whole season in fact,” Horner told Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview.

“And it's highly unusual for a driver of Sergio's quality and ability to be on the market.  

“So, we just felt that we would be better placed putting in a more experienced driver alongside Max as we head into 2021. 

“I think it was a grown-up view that we took to go outside of the scheme. And to give Sergio a chance.  

“Obviously he drove so well last year - particularly in the in the last third of the season.” 

Regarding Albon’s future, Horner said Red Bull will “continue to work with and develop Alex offline”, with the 24-year-old also embarking on a part-time DTM campaign in 2021. 

“He still remains very much part of the team - he's driving the simulator today as we speak,” Horner added.

Read Also:

When asked what Perez’s appointment gives Red Bull, Horner replied: “He's got 10 years’ worth of Formula 1 experience, I think he's demonstrated his ability to maximise the Pirelli tyre.  

“And, of course, he just brings a whole host of experience - of the podiums that he's achieved - and results that he's achieved in cars that have, until last year, been far from competitive.  

“I've known Sergio a long time - he drove for my team in GP2 years ago [Arden International, in 2009], and I've always followed his career with interest.  

“And it was just a matter of circumstances that presented itself as an opportunity and made sense for Sergio to take the seat alongside Max this year.” 

shares
comments

Related video

What AlphaTauri did (and didn’t) reveal in new F1 car images

Previous article

What AlphaTauri did (and didn’t) reveal in new F1 car images

Next article

Opinion: Why safety cars are an outdated institution

Opinion: Why safety cars are an outdated institution
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Sergio Perez
Teams Red Bull Racing
Author Alex Kalinauckas
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021