Helmut Marko says it is ‘no shame’ that Red Bull Racing hired Sergio Pérez for the 2021 Formula 1 season, feeling the Mexican gives them the best shot at helping the team fight for the championship.
Red Bull felt they needed to have a stronger second driver alongside Max Verstappen if they are to take the fight to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, with the Dutchman often being the lone driver to interject himself in the battle with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Alexander Albon was Verstappen’s team-mate for 2020, but after careful evaluation by Red Bull advisor Marko and Team Principal Christian Horner, it was decided to drop the Anglo-Thai driver down to reserve driver and bring in BWT Racing Point Formula One Team refugee Pérez for 2021.
Red Bull could have opted to put Albon back at Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, but that option was taken away from them when the sister team opted to bring in Honda protégé Yuki Tsunoda. And Marko felt the Japanese racer was the only Red Bull Junior ready to make the jump into Formula 1.
“It’s no shame to admit we haven’t brought two juniors into Formula 1 for the first time since 2010. We have one with Tsunoda,” said Marko to Motorsport-total.com.
“He is the first Japanese since [Kamui] Kobayashi in Formula 1 and at the same time the youngest Japanese ever to get into Formula 1. So, we have a junior, but not two.
“Jüri Vips drove in Japan this year. He had a test, but otherwise he spent a lot of time in quarantine with the restricted travel regulations between Japan and Europe.
“Long story in a nutshell…we don’t have anyone for the cockpit at Red Bull Racing in order not to jeopardise our goal in the World Championship.”
Looking at the long-term potential of the Red Bull Junior Team, Marko says there is talent coming through that he feels is good enough to get into Formula, including Jüri Vips and Liam Lawson, so there are no concerns about the programme going forward.
“We have two top people in Jüri Vips and Liam Lawson,” said Marko. “Also Jehan Daruvala, who won the last F2 race of the season. And we have a very strong American [Jak Crawford] who will be driving Formula 3 in 2021.
“Nobody else can match our success in promoting young talent.”