Experienced Perez determined to over-deliver for Red Bull

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Austrian Grand Prix - Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria - July 5, 2020 Racing Point's Sergio Perez in action during the race, as F1 resumes following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Mark Thompson/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Sergio Perez is determined to over-deliver this season as the Mexican, finally a race winner, steps into one of the hottest of seats as Max Verstappen's Red Bull team mate.

The 31-year-old will be the fourth driver in as many years to try and live alongside a 23-year-old who has emerged as a real threat to Mercedes' seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Unlike immediate predecessors who fell short alongside the Dutch driver, Thailand's Alexander Albon and France's Pierre Gasly, Perez can count on more than a decade in grand prix racing.

"I am confident in my abilities," the Mexican, whose resume includes a difficult and unhappy year at McLaren, told reporters on Thursday.

"It will take a bit of time before I get on top of everything but I don’t see why with time I can’t."

Asked about his goals, he replied: "To over-deliver on the car's performance. If we have a car good enough to win the championship, to make sure I win it. If we have got a car that is good for second, then make sure to win."

Perez proved a popular first time winner, in his 190th start, with Racing Point (now Aston Martin) in Bahrain last December.

It had looked then like he was leaving the sport, with four times champion Sebastian Vettel already signed to take his place, but Red Bull threw him a lifeline.

Now he is hungry for more wins with a team hoping for a real battle with Mercedes after finishing distant runners-up in 2020.

"You get a bit too addicted to it. One win is just the first one and you are waiting to get the second one," he said.

"It gives you a lot of confidence as well -- you've been there and experienced that and you know that you can do it again."

Perez, fourth overall last year, expected Verstappen to be "a massive benchmark" in qualifying but said he was fully motivated and working flat-out on his fitness.

"When things don't go well, the pressure hits you hard. And when you are experienced, when you have been through it before, it just makes you focus on the right stuff," he said.

"I just think the opportunity comes in a great point of my career and it's going to work out well."

The season starts in Bahrain on March 28.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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