The Mexican was signed by the Milton Keynes-based team to replace Alex Albon this year, with the team feeling they needed more solid roster to bolster their world championship chances.
Although Perez had some difficulty at first adjusting to the characteristics of the Red Bull car, especially in qualifying, he made great strides and won the Azerbaijani Grand Prix last weekend.
MORE: Why Pragmatist Perez Isn’t Confused By Pragmatic Red Bull F1 Culture
Red Bull team manager Christian Horner has nothing but praise for Perez’s pace of development, as he called his racing pace in Baku particularly impressive.
“We knew he was good here, but we didn’t know he was that good,” Horner explained.
“He’s been fast all weekend and he’s been on the pace. The only lap he made a mistake was the first pass of Q3.
“His race pace was phenomenal. If it hadn’t been long at the first stop, he would also have been right over Max for the overcut at that point, such was his pace in the clean air.
“So phenomenal for him. The way he defended Lewis [Hamilton] and controlling was a class act.
“To see him win this victory will be great for his confidence. It now puts him in third place in the drivers’ championship. So I think he is ahead of expectations.”
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12
Photo By: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Perez’s encouraging form has given Red Bull their strongest roster of drivers since Verstappen raced alongside Daniel Ricciardo.
But, while the win leaves Red Bull needing to look past Perez for the 2022 nominees, Horner said he was happy to wait before considering a possible contract extension.
“I’m really happy with the job Checo is doing,” he said. “We’re only on the sixth race of 23. We have a lot of time. He loves being on the team. He’s doing a great job and he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”
Horner accepted, however, that having Perez among the winners was a huge advantage for Red Bull.
“It’s nice to have both cars up there obviously, and I think that’s an added chord in our bow on a day when you lose your lead car,” he said.
“Checo is there and, to take the win, that’s exactly what we were looking for. So I’m thrilled for him and thrilled for the team for the amount of effort put in behind the scenes.”