Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel believes it’s already clear that Red Bull will terminate Sergio Perez’s contract before the start of next season with Daniel Ricciardo tipped to come in as Max Verstappen’s new team-mate. Perez earned high praise for his performances early in his Red Bull career, particularly in 2021 as he helped Verstappen win his first World Championship.
But Red Bull’s dominance over the past 18 months has added pressure on Perez to deliver more consistent performances on the track, something which he’s failed to do this year. After a strong start to 2023, Perez’s performances tailed off and he’s already 125 points adrift of Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship.
His form led to questions on whether Red Bull would look to replace him midway through the season with Ricciardo, who started the year as the team’s reserve driver. But Red Bull instead gave Ricciardo a seat with AlphaTauri after Nyck de Vries was axed.
It’s been a mixed start for the Aussie at AlphaTauri, but Coronel believes it’s already done and dusted that he will re-join Verstappen at Red Bull as Perez’s replacement next year. “In the whole of Formula One, a contract is toilet paper,” he told RacingNews365.com.
“The most money is made the moment contracts are dissolved, you’ve seen that before with drivers. ‘Shall we say goodbye now? Okay, so then it will cost 20 million extra’, on top of it. But then you can move on. We all know what will happen to Perez. Come on, we know that!
“It’s very clear. Helmut Marko [Red Bull driver programme boss] is just looking for a very strong second driver. Verstappen’s best team-mate ever? That was Ricciardo. So yes, you know, then I see it anyway: that’s what they are looking for. Perez just doesn’t have the consistency. A sub-topper, nothing wrong with that.
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“But you are looking for a Ricciardo, who then beat Sebastian Vettel. Is this going to be the new World Champion? Well, with Max next to you you can forget about that, but one thing is for sure: at Red Bull you need a driver who will be at least second or third and that’s where I think Perez is still too often overshooting himself, let’s put it nicely…”
Christian Horner appeared to reject the idea of terminating Perez’s contract early, stating this summer that Ricciardo will be in with a chance for the 2025 season. He said: “We’ve loaned him to AlphaTauri to the end of the year. Obviously, our drivers are going to be Max and Checo again next year, but it’s always good to have talent in reserve.
“I think [the way] Daniel is viewing AlphaTauri, he firmly wants to be pitching for that 2025 Red Bull. That’s his golden objective. And by going to AlphaTauri, I think he sees that as his best route of stating his case for 2025.”
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