Despite Sergio Perez’s confirmed contract for 2024 and repeated team denials of any change, rumours about his position continue to swirl. However, former F1 driver Felipe Massa says Red Bull should definitely keep the Mexican at the wheel.
Christian Horner, the team boss at Red Bull, has been addressing the rumours head-on for weeks. Speaking to Bloomberg, he now expresses frustration with the persistent questioning. “Only you (journalists) keep questioning it. I keep repeating that Checo will be our driver next year. He’s had a tough six weeks, but he’s starting to regain his form,” before adding, “He drove a strong race in Sao Paulo and also in Austin, and he sits second in the championship, more than 30 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton with two races to go. We will see what he can do in the next two races, but he will be our driver alongside Max in 2024.”
Felipe Massa, sharing his insights with the Dutch magazine Formule 1, agrees that Red Bull should maintain their current lineup. “As long as Max is happy and the team wins both the drivers’ championship and the constructors’ championship, I think it would be wise to leave things as they are now,” he said. Massa further emphasized the strength of Verstappen, stating, “Max is visibly feeling good and wins almost every race. For him, any change would mean a deterioration.” He also questioned the potential impact of replacing Perez with another driver: “What Max is showing this season is of an unprecedented level. Even if you put Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso in the other car, I’m not sure much would change. Maybe a little bit, but believe me, they wouldn’t beat Max either.”
Echoing Massa’s sentiments, Davide Valsecchi, a former GP2 champion and current Italian television analyst, also shared his perspective. Speaking to Autosprint, Valsecchi expressed doubts about even a seasoned driver like Alonso competing alongside Verstappen: “It would be wonderful if Red Bull signed him. But I’m afraid that we would be disappointed because I don’t have the confidence that he would be able to handle a 26-year-old like Max in terms of speed.”
Massa also acknowledged the underlying reasons for the ongoing speculation regarding Perez. “Let’s be honest – we’d all rather see the championship decided in the last lap, like in 2021 in Abu Dhabi,” he remarked. “If you reason like that, of course you wish for the best driver on the grid after Max to take Perez’s seat.”