Lewis Hamilton said he was happy that Sergio Perez had earned the right to join Red Bull. He said it would put the team in a stronger position to fight for victories in 2021.

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Perez will collaborate with Max Verstappen in 2021 after he has been confirmed as the successor of Alex Albon. Albon has fought for form this season and, despite two podium finishes, has often lagged behind his teammate’s form, so Verstappen has to do it alone against the Mercedes drivers.

Perez, meanwhile, ended the 2020 season with his first Formula 1 victory in the Sahir Grand Prix, while Hamilton said that his form deserved to be improved by a stronger team.

When asked if he was enthusiastic about adopting the more experienced Red Bull, Hamilton answered: I’m very happy to take part in this contest: Yeah, absolutely.

With all due respect to Alex, in the races we did, it was me, Valtteri [Bottas] versus Max. I was in the position Max was in when I was the leading car in the McLaren and the other car wasn’t in the fight. When we had problems with Ferrari, they knew how to play with strategy and make things difficult for us.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez shake hands on the stage at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2018. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

Of course it makes Red Bull stronger, especially with the way Sergio behaves. I think Sergio did an incredibly good job this year and he really deserves the trip. I was so, so glad to hear that one of the best teams had taken him and given him that chance. I think it’s gonna be an exciting fight to see him deal with Max.

It’s going to make things a lot harder for us as a team, we really have to make more effort, because it’s going to be a battle like we haven’t seen for a long time with two riders fighting against us. But we enjoy it as a team, that’s what we strive for, we like challenges and that makes it even more exciting.

Verstappen said that Albon’s best performance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when he put the pressure on Hamilton at the end, showed the advantage of having two competitive cars in each race.

I don’t think it makes a difference to my performance, but it’s more as if the second car could be in the lead for the whole race to try to push a little… as in Abu Dhabi, in the end Alex was pretty close and it just hinders, usually Mercedes tries to make an extra stop, whatever, and I’m in a more difficult position.

Usually we were competitive this year, I was the only car that tried to beat them and do something else. But they can always drive the right strategy with one of them because they have my back with a car.

It was always a bit difficult with them. I hope Checo will push the team in the first place of course, but also that he keeps me going, which is always fun, having a teammate to push you is exciting.

With a slightly more competitive start it will hopefully become more interesting and harder for them to make decisions.

When asked whether he had anything to say about the final decision, Mr Verstappen replied: I don’t know: Of course we talked about it. I was just giving my honest opinion. I think it was pretty clear that at certain times of the year it was quite difficult for Alex.

He’s a great guy. I’m glad he’s still on the team. But in the end the decisions are made by Helmut, Christian and of course Dietrich. I knew that before, but in the end it doesn’t matter.

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