Red Bull names Sergio Perez to replace Alex Albon as Max Verstappen’s F1 teammate

Red Bull Sergio Perez
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MILTON KEYNES, England — Mexican driver Sergio Perez will race alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull next season, the Formula One team announced Friday.

Perez, who will replace Alexander Albon, became Mexico’s first F1 winner in 50 years with his victory this month at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain.

Red Bull said that historic performance helped make Perez the “favored choice” over Albon, who will remain with the team as a test and reserve driver. Perez has a one-year contract.

“Having taken our time to evaluate all the relevant data and performances we have decided that Sergio is the right driver to partner Max for 2021 and look forward to welcoming him to Red Bull Racing,” team principal Christian Horner said.

Perez, 30, was facing an uncertain future after Racing Point announced in September that it would replace him with four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.

Perez is coming off his best F1 season, finishing with 125 points in fourth place. Albon was seventh with 105 points.

In his 190th race, Perez earned his first win on Dec. 6 in Bahrain. Even then, he wasn’t sure of his future, saying “if I’m not on the grid next year, I will be in 2022.”

He won’t need to wait. Red Bull said Perez is “one of the sport’s most consistent performers and tenacious racers.”

Perez was with Racing Point, which will be renamed Aston Martin, for seven seasons after making his debut in 2011.

The 24-year-old Albon had joined Red Bull in August 2019, replacing Pierre Gasly. The Britain-born Thai racer made his F1 debut that season with Toro Rosso.

“Alex is a valued member of the team and we thought long and hard about this decision,” Horner said. “Alex remains an important part of our team as test and reserve driver with a key focus on 2022 development and we would like to thank him for his hard work and contribution.”

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”