Speculation that Sergio Perez’s days at Red Bull are numbered just will not go away.
Before Daniel Ricciardo broke his hand at Zandvoort, rumours were rife that Red Bull’s plan was to find a way out of Perez’s 2024 deal.
But now, with Liam Lawson at the wheel of Ricciardo’s Alpha Tauri for the unknown duration of his recovery, both Dr Helmut Marko and Christian Horner are now saying it is “clear” that Perez’s contract will be honoured next year.
“We still have faith in him,” Marko told Viaplay. “He has to finish this season in second place.
“Sometimes he puts the pressure on himself, but to be honest, everyone has a difficult life next to Max (Verstappen).”
Red Bull Racing team boss Horner, however, has been much quieter about Perez’s 2024 deal than Marko.
“It’s noticeable that Horner is disagreeing with Helmut Marko a lot these days,” former F1 driver Christijan Albers told De Telegraaf.
“I get the feeling that Horner just wants Ricciardo back in that car.”
Another former Formula 1 driver, Ralf Schumacher, goes one step further, insisting that another weekend of errors for Perez at Zandvoort means he has “no future at Red Bull”.
“I think his days at Red Bull are numbered,” he told Sky Deutschland.
“Dr Marko isn’t exactly known for his warm-hearted way, but I think Perez can’t deal with it very well and that leads to these serious mistakes.
“Perez looked grumpy, disappointed and kind of absent all weekend,” Schumacher added. “I think agreements have been made about a separation at the end of the season.”
Schumacher thinks that if contracts were no obstacle, Verstappen would like his friend and McLaren driver Lando Norris to replace Perez.
“My assumption is that Max will ultimately decide who his teammate will be, which wouldn’t be unusual. That was also the case with Senna and my brother (Michael) also had that right.
“When a driver like Verstappen contributes so much to the team’s success, I think it’s good to give him what he wants as much as possible.”
Interestingly, in a new interview with Sky Italia, Verstappen doesn’t deny that he would like to share the Red Bull garage with Briton Norris, 23.
“We’ve talked about it,” the Dutchman admits.
“But he has a very long contract with McLaren and nobody knows what will happen in the future.”