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Red Bull Perez signing will force Mercedes to "step up our game" - Hamilton

Red Bull Perez signing will force Mercedes to "step up our game" - Hamilton

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Red Bull Perez signing will force Mercedes to "step up our game" - Hamilton

Red Bull Perez signing will force Mercedes to "step up our game" - Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton believes Red Bull's capture of Sergio Perez will lead to a battle Formula 1 has "not seen for some time".

Red Bull has handed Perez a one-year contract for 2021, while demoting Alex Albon to the role of test and reserve driver.

The Mexican is now set to form a formidable partnership with Max Verstappen in its quest to finally end the domination of Hamilton and Mercedes.

The seven-time champion has no doubt Red Bull represents a strong threat next season.

Speaking ahead of the FIA prize-giving gala, Hamilton said: “With all due respect to Alex, in the races that we’ve had it’s been me and Valtteri [Bottas] against Max.

“Now I’ve been in the position that Max was in once, particularly when I was at McLaren, where I was the lead car, and the second car wasn’t in the fight.

"So when we were fighting Ferrari, they could move around with the strategy and make it a lot harder for us.

“I think naturally this makes Red Bull stronger, particularly the way Sergio is performing. I think Sergio has driven incredibly well this year, and truly deserved a drive, so I was happy to hear he was taken on by one of the top teams and given this opportunity."

After being released by Racing Point as the team opted for Sebastian Vettel to take it into its era as Aston Martin, Perez went on to finish fourth in the drivers' standings, notably scoring his debut win at the 190th attempt in the Sakhir Grand Prix.

"I think it's going to be an exciting battle to watch him up against Max, and that's going to be much harder for us a team," added Hamilton.

"So we're really going to have to step up our game because that's going to be a battle we've not seen for some time in terms of having the two drivers there fighting against us.

"We relish that as a team, that's what we work towards, we love the challenge and it's going to make it that much more exciting."

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