After claiming his first-ever Grand Prix win at the Sakhir GP last season, Sergio Perez joined Red Bull for the 2021 campaign.
Following his divorce from Racing Point, where he raced for seven years; the Mexican driver has struggled to match teammate Max Verstappen's form through the first four races of the season.
Indeed, Formula One’s reduced testing schedule in Bahrain further complicated the adjusting to a completely new team, with different internal dynamics and coming to terms with a different car (and teammate).
To this, we shall add Red Bull’s notorious lack of patience with their drivers. Yet, after last week’s Spanish GP, Team Principal Christian Horner said: "I think it's coming together for him, he had an off day [on Saturday] and he was compromised in the race behind Daniel [Ricciardo]”.
Even teammate Max Verstappen believes in Perez’s potential to impress.
"I'm convinced that that will come for Checo as he finds more confidence and time in the car”, the Dutchman himself told Ziggo Sport on Sunday night.
With no doubt, one of the most influential figures within the Milton Keynes-based team is Helmut Marko, whose most notable characteristic is his blatant honesty.
Marko rarely holds back from speaking his mind and giving frank opinions on the performance of the team's drivers.
While this feature might not be enjoyed by most people, Perez said he is appreciating working alongside Marko at Red Bull, and he particularly welcomes his direct character and feedback.
"The truth is that I am delighted with Helmut," Perez said.
"He always tells me what he thinks. If you do well, he tells you. If you do badly, he tells you - not only to you, also externally to the press”.
The Mexican particularly acknowledges Marko’s outspoken personality because "he is very direct and having someone like that in F1 is not very common”.
"Normally after the race, I have calls with him, and there he tells me if I did wrong or not."
While he is still working to find the perfect ‘sync’ with his new car, Perez believes he has made big steps forward in race pace with the Red Bull RB16B car.
"I think in racing is where I have improved the most, because what I was doing in the previous teams didn't work here. I had to change my approach in terms of racing. I made a big improvement in Portugal.
The Mexican managed to outqualify Verstappen at Imola; however, there’s still a lot of work to be done to beat his younger teammate on race day.
"My aspiration is to win. It's early in the season still, I have to be patient. I know that 10 races from now, I will know exactly where I stand and the chances I have in the championship.
"F1 seasons are quite long. It doesn't matter where you start or how you start, but how you finish in Abu Dhabi."
The Spanish GP was a struggle for Checo, as he suffered a shoulder issue; however, he is now fully recovered and looking forward to the Monaco GP.
"It was a tough weekend and it was compromised by the poor performance on Saturday in qualifying," Perez said.
"I wasn't 100% physically so I did struggle, but I'm back to full fitness now. Looking ahead I'm getting more comfortable with the car so I hope we are able to show that in Monaco and put in a good performance on Saturday."
Ahead of returning to Monaco's principality after two years, Red Bull is well-aware that if it is to really challenge Mercedes for the Constructors’ Championship, then it cannot afford to give its main challenger too many strategic options – and for that to happen Perez has to be there to compromise what choices the German car manufacturer has.