Struggling Red Bull star Sergio Perez remains on borrowed time alongside Max Verstappen. A devastating early exit at his home race has left the Mexican fighting for his future.
Red Bull are insistent that their “intention” is to have Perez in his seat next season. The 33-year-old has a contract until the end of the 2024 campaign, giving him the security of another year.
But it remains the case that there are several drivers lining up to take Perez’s seat should his poor form continue. McLaren’s Lando Norris has been widely tipped to become Verstappen’s understudy, either this year or next.
That move is surely destined to happen at some point in the future. Norris is enjoying a comparatively better season than Perez despite driving a weaker car, and is one of the most highly-rated drivers in the sport.
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The 23-year-old has five P2 finishes to Perez’s four this season, in further evidence that a change might be necessary. Red Bull need a second driver who can consistently get close to Verstappen to ensure they earn as many points as possible.
In June, Verstappen’s frustration over Perez’s form boiled over at the Canadian Grand Prix. Perez’s poor weekend, in which he finished sixth and failed to reach Q3, left the Dutchman bemoaning: “Well, if I wasn’t here today, obviously it would have been very different for the team. That’s one way of looking at it.”
Verstappen needs a more consistent partner. In Norris, he would have someone who has frequently challenged for podiums despite not driving a car as powerful as many of his Formula One rivals.
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Red Bull insist that Perez will continue into 2024. Christian Horner said after Perez crashed out of the first lap in Mexico: “Checo has an agreement with us for next year and that’s our intention, for him to be in the car in 2024.
“We’ll give him all the support we can to ensure that he finishes second [in the drivers’ standings] but there’s no prerequisite that if he doesn’t finish second, you’re out.”
But continued below-par performances will surely change opinion at Red Bull. Whether it be this year or next, the writing appears to be on the wall for Perez.
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