Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the team held only a “brief discussion” with free agent Nico Hulkenberg as it pondered its potential options for replacing Alex Albon, while Sebastian Vettel was never seriously considered.
Both Hulkenberg and Vettel were short-listed by pundits early on as possible candidates for a vacant seat at Red Bull, but Horner has revealed that there were no drivers other than Sergio Perez that were earmarked for the plum drive once the options were narrowed down.
“There was no other,” he said. “There was a brief discussion with Nico Hulkenberg. But it’s really accelerated over the last month, I would say.”
Horner didn’t deny that Hulkenberg deserved a seat in F1 but admitted that “crazy” circumstances ultimately delivered to Red Bull a lucky opportunity to consider Perez.
“It’s remarkable and, I mean, circumstances are a little crazy, aren’t they?” he said. “Nico Hulkenberg is another capable driver that should really have a seat in F1.
“But it was our good fortune that he [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.
“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.”
Horner insists Red Bull had to go with the data on Albon
At the end of the day, Horner said that choosing Perez is all about strengthening Red Bull as a championship contender.
“It was impossible to ignore Sergio’s performance this year,” added Horner. “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.”
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