Sergio Perez thought there was “no chance” he could join Red Bull, given he was not part of their junior programme.
In hiring the Mexican driver, who was left without a team after being let go by Racing Point, Red Bull went against their recent tradition of taking a driver from their development scheme.
Due to their history with that policy, ‘Checo’ was not hopeful he would ever get the opportunity to represent the UK-based outfit but is now preparing to partner Max Verstappen ahead of the 2021 season.
He told Red Bull’s official website: “It’s a fantastic brand. Of all the teams in Formula 1, I thought there was no chance for me to join it because I wasn’t part of the junior programme, but when the opportunity came I took it.
“It’s a dream come true. When I put my Red Bull shirt on or drink a can, I think ‘wow, this is the brand I drive for!’
“It’s amazing and hard to imagine. It’s an opportunity I have worked so hard for – for more than 15 years. I think it’s come at the right time, I’m ready for that and I will grab it with both hands.”
Driver and team face coverings are available now on the official Formula 1 store!
The moment you've been waiting for ?? @SChecoPerez in his new Team colours ? #HolaCheco ?? pic.twitter.com/pGALh1rLvG
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) January 20, 2021
Perez cites his hard work as the reason why he has been given this opportunity, although there was a time in his early career when he nearly gave up on his dream.
He got into karting at a young age, thanks to the influence of his father, and at the age of 15 moved to Germany as he aimed to make it in Formula 1.
As a teenager miles from home though, it was not all plain sailing.
He said: “There were lots of points when I thought about quitting. I had left my whole childhood behind. My friends, my family and it was very different culture-wise.
“Many times I thought Formula 1 was just too far and I should just go back home and have more of a normal life. But it was the support of my family that kept me there.
“Those two years in Germany were very hard from the emotional point of view. It was very lonely. It was busy in the week, but the race-free weekends felt very long. I guess at that time it was the determination that kept me there – I believe that with determination and passion you can achieve your goals.”
That determination has got him into a situation where he gets to represent the biggest challenge to Mercedes on the grid, under the management of team principal Christian Horner, whom he has previous experience of working with.
“I worked with Christian and his dad, I drove for him in my first season in GP2,” added Perez. “It’s crazy to think after 12 years we’ll be working together again.
“I admire Christian a lot. First of all, he’s a fantastic person to have around you and he’s also a great team leader. There are great times ahead of us.”
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