Did Alonso himself fire up the Perez swap rumours?

Red Bull’s advisor Dr Helmut Marko has suggested Fernando Alonso may have a hand in the recent rumours regarding a bombshell potential Formula 1 shakeup. Speculation has been rife about a dramatic move that would see Alonso switch seats with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez – or retire altogether.

Notably cheerful and unfazed throughout much of the rest of the season, especially when his Aston Martin was on the pace, the 42-year-old was having none of it when asked about the claims at Interlagos. “Rumours in the paddock are normal, but in this case, people are just trying to have fun and attract followers. And I don’t play those games.” Alonso expressed his far greater respect for the seasoned journalists within the sport, distancing them from the sources of the speculation and even hinting at “consequences” for the originators of the rumours.

Marko acknowledged the rumour but was quick to debunk it: “This was all completely out of thin air,” he declared to Sport1. Reaffirming the team’s repeatedly-stated position, he added, “Both Christian Horner and I have emphasised several times that Perez will drive with us next year. Regardless of the results.”

He then sensationally speculated on Alonso’s involvement in the chatter: “I can well imagine Alonso spreading them himself because his results with Aston Martin have been very disappointing recently after the brilliant start to the season.”

Also clear to seasoned F1 observers is that if Perez were to depart, Daniel Ricciardo would be the much more likely contender. Ricciardo half-heartedly quashed those rumours on Thursday: “All the stuff around my contract next year has been related to Alpha Tauri.”

Max Verstappen, current Red Bull champion, seemed indifferent to the paddock chatter – as well as the identity of his 2024 stablemate. Praising his current teammate, he said, “If it’s Checo next year, then great. I have a great working relationship with him.” Yet he didn’t close the door on working with Ricciardo again: “And if it’s Daniel, then we also will get along fine and we have a great time.”

The Dutchman concluded: “But maybe also nothing happens, so we’ll see.”

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