Perez seeks multi-year new Red Bull contract

Sergio Perez is actively pursuing a contract extension spanning more than a year with Red Bull Racing as the Formula 1 landscape sees a frantic shuffle for 2025 due to significant upcoming rule changes and numerous driver contract expiries.

This year, Carlos Sainz has emerged as a pivotal player in the shifting dynamics of the market, with connections not only to Red Bull but also to the Mercedes seat being vacated by Lewis Hamilton, who will join Ferrari next season.

Mercedes team principal and part-owner Toto Wolff expressed a desire to moderate the pace of the driver market’s changes. “We’re just going at our pace,” Wolff revealed to Sky Deutschland in Shanghai. The early declaration from Hamilton was unexpected, prompting Wolff to say, “and now I want exactly the opposite when it comes to next year’s decision.”

Wolff praised Carlos Sainz for his performance, noting, “Carlos is doing a great job. There’s nothing to say about that. So he’s one that we’re taking into account.”

In the running to take over Hamilton’s position is Wolff’s 17-year-old mentee, Andrea ‘Kimi’ Antonelli. It gives Wolff a back-up plan as he hopes for reignited tensions at Red Bull, possibly causing Max Verstappen to consider other options.

Ziggo Sport commentator Jack Plooij believes the Mercedes team is serious about their intentions with Max. “It’s very serious. That’s because of James (Jim) Ratcliffe,” he stated, referencing the one-third Mercedes co-owner and head of their principal sponsor, Ineos. Plooij highlighted Ratcliffe’s ambition to secure Verstappen for Mercedes: “He is behind this, and he has said ‘Do everything to bring Max to our team.'”

Plooij further speculated on the potential advantages for Verstappen with Mercedes. “There is one team in the history of Formula 1 that has always handled the transition to new engines the best – Mercedes. If they can show Verstappen that they’re making a bomb of an engine, then will Max go for the best engine in 2026?”

Amid the possibilities, Sainz’s prospects at Mercedes are considered a long shot. Nico Rosberg commented on the situation while in China, “Audi is making him an offer, but then he will have no chance of being at the front next year. The team (Sauber) will not even be Audi then. And driving alongside Verstappen is no fun for him at Red Bull. I don’t think he will ever accept becoming number 2 driver again.”

Meanwhile, Verstappen is expected to remain at Red Bull, which bodes well for Perez’s security in his seat for 2025. Perez, who is advocating for a more extended contract, expressed his rationale to ESPN Mexico: “I think that makes a lot of sense. I don’t think it makes sense to hire a driver for one year and then all the rules change for 2026, right? Especially because there will be a lot of development next year, in the middle of the year, so it’s important to be part of a long-term project.”

Dr. Helmut Marko of Red Bull, meanwhile, commented on Sebastian Vettel’s attempts to return from retirement, noting the difficulties in obtaining a top seat. “I think he wants it if he sees the chance to get a top car somewhere,” Marko said in Shanghai. “Then he’s ready for it. The problem is that he’s been out of the frame for over a year, and there are no longer that many top seats.”

GMM

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