Former F1 driver Damon Hill believes Sergio Perez’s vast experience will make him a “strong player” at Red Bull and a driver the team will need to listen to.
Red Bull made a final call on its line-up for 2021 after the Abu Dhabi GP and decided to position Alex Albon on the sidelines for a year, awarding the British-Thai racer’s plum drive to Perez.
Red Bull has thus gone outside of its pool of talent as it seeks to strengthen Milton Keynes-based outfit led by Max Verstappen.
Hill reckons Perez’s opinion will carry more weight with his new team thanks to the Mexican’s maturity and ten-year background in F1.
“I think Sergio, being more mature, having had more experience, I think he will be able to see what’s going on,” Hill told Natalie Pinkham on the latter’s ‘In The Pink’ podcast.
“It’s very difficult for a young person who is beholden to Red Bull. Sergio’s life does not depend on Red Bull, so he will be able to act as a strong player within that team and they will have to listen to what he says because he has quite a lot of experience now – more than Max, don’t forget.
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“When you have a very talented driver, sometimes a team can go off on a tangent because the driver says ‘I like that’ and sometimes the driver can be wrong.
“Sometimes a driver can have so much natural talent they can drive anything, it doesn’t matter how bad it is, they can still make it go quick. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going in the right direction with the car.
“It’s like a cricket team, you need someone who’s going to score a hundred, someone who will be able to protect the wicket and come back with something at least,” said Hill.
“There was a bit of uncertainty with Alex and for whatever reason, it’s very difficult in that team for a team-mate [to Verstappen].”
While Perez is offered his first career break in F1 with a top team, Hill admitted that he would have loved to see the 30-year-old pass through the golden gates of Maranello.
“it’s a great move, but I’ve been saying for quite a long time I would like to have seen him at Ferrari,” said the 1996 World Champion.
“I think he’s such a solid deliverer for a team. He seems to be apolitical and very much liked.
“I was so impressed by him when we first went to the Mexican Grand Prix and he was worked to death because clearly he was the local hero.
“But he kept a smile on his face and just gave everyone whatever they wanted and they were so enthusiastic in Mexico.
“I just thought ‘put him in a Ferrari, they would just go berserk’. The whole of America would go potty for him.”
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