Sergio Perez says he felt like “the most stupid guy on earth” for contracting the coronavirus last summer and missing two races with Racing Point.
Red Bull Racing’s new driver was sidelined from Silverstone’s double-header, the fourth and fifth rounds of the 2021 F1 world championship, after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The setback, along with the termination of his contract with Racing Point, were the low points of a season in which the Mexican also enjoyed a fantastic apogee when he won his maiden Grand Prix at Sakhir in December.
Overall, it was a hell of a ride for Perez in 2020.
“I certainly had a very tough year, I will say,” said Perez in a Red Bull video.
“With corona, being the first driver to get the virus – you know, now it’s like a bit more normal [that] people get it – but at the time it was like, ‘you’re the most stupid guy on earth, because you got the virus.’
“It was very harsh, you know, for me to deal with it.”
Later on, his Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll became the second driver to catch the virus while Lewis Hamilton also fell victim to the pandemic, missing the Sakhir GP.
But Perez’s predicament was complicated by the uncertainty surrounding his F1 future as Sebastian Vettel had entered the frame at Racing Point for 2021.
“It was a very critical time in my career, because there was the contract thing,” said Perez reflecting on the circumstances surrounding that phase of the year.
“In the end I lost the seat with my team, but it worked out really well. But I never knew what was going to happen.
“When that happened, I was pretty relaxed. I thought, ‘well, I’ve had a tremendous career already and I’m pleased with myself, but I just have to give it all weekend after weekend and see what happens.’
“When the Red Bull opportunity opened up, it was sometimes looking better, sometimes looking worse. But then in the end, it worked out.
“So I think these opportunities, [they] only come once in your life. I know that, and I’m ready to make it work.”
Read also: Red Bull’s Perez feels ‘like a dog finding a new family’
Perez has started the process of settling in with Red Bull Racing, but says he’s still struggling with the reality of finally getting a chance to race for the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
“I still don’t believe that I’m here to be honest,” he said.
“When I put the Red Bull branding on myself, it’s like ‘wow’, something that I never really considered as an option, because not being part of a Red Bull programme at a young age seems to be critical.
“But things in life, you end up in places that you dreamed of. So it’s a dream come true to be part of this Red Bull family.
“It’s just amazing. I love so much the brand. I have so much admiration for what they do and the amount of support they do to the sports.
“I just look forward to have a very successful start. But more than that, a very successful season.”
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