Formula 1: Sergio Perez to replace Alex Albon at Red Bull in 2021
- 'You can be sure that I will give next season my full focus,' Sergio Perez said
- Alex Albon will continue to remain an integral part of the team's set-up, the Red Bull team principal
- Perez's seat at Racing Point was given to 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel
Formula One team Red Bull on Friday announced they will replace Alexander Albon with Mexican driver Sergio Perez for the 2021 season.
Perez, who was out of contract with Racing Point, will now race alongside Dutch driver Max Verstappen, AFP reported. The 30-year-old put himself in contention to replace the inconsistent Albon with a first-ever Formula One race win, in his 190th attempt, at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain.
"The chance to race for a championship contending team is something I have been hoping for since I joined Formula One and it will be a proud moment to step onto the grid in Red Bull colours alongside Max," Perez said.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said they had selected the perfect partner for Verstappen.
"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."
Albon had a tumultuous maiden full season in Formula One, but Horner said he will continue to remain an integral part of the team's set-up.
"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," he said.
Perez was preparing for a short sabbatical from racing after his seat at Racing Point was given to four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was recently let go by Ferrari, prior to receiving the call from Red Bull.
He bid an emotional farewell to the team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the season, from which he retired last weekend.
Albon had finished fourth in Sunday's race, won by Perez's new teammate Verstappen with a lights-to-flag victory in the leading Red Bull.
Perez said after the race, "Who knows what will happen next? I am just looking forward to going back home. Whatever comes next, I will be ready for it."
Five days on and with his 2021 future secured he vowed, "You can be sure that I will give next season my full focus."
"The team has the same winning mentality as me and I know I am here to perform and help the team fight for another title."
The week before Yas Marina, the 30-year-old Mexican had driven from last position, after a first-lap collision, to top a memorable podium alongside Renault's Esteban Ocon and his Racing Point team-mate Lance Stroll.
His success left him weeping in his cockpit at the end of his penultimate race with Racing Point, and at the same time caught the eye of the Red Bull garage.
Friday's statement from his new employers noted, "Sergio 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."
Perez' welcome job offer comes as Lewis Hamilton is slated to sign a new deal with Mercedes.
Mercedes all but confirmed their seven-time world champion would drive for them next season on Thursday.
A post on the team's official Twitter account carried the hashtag "announce" accompanied by the "coming soon" and "pen" emojis, along with a quote from Hamilton expressing his desire to stay with Mercedes.