With tension beneath the surface at Red Bull Racing, could Sergio Perez depart the team in 2024 if he can’t compete for the championship?
With the 2023 F1 grid set, attention will quickly begin turning toward the next cycle of the driver rumor mill. After next season, will the seats at Mercedes and Ferrari remain firm? How will the new French duo fair at Alpine or Fernando Alonso gets on at Aston Martin? But one of the most watched seats during 2023 will be that of Sergio Perez’s and his future at Red Bull.
Conflict at Red Bull
With the internal issues at Red Bull Racing, questions have turned to 2024 and whether or not Sergio Perez will stay with the team past 2024. Checo’s discouragement is clear. In his battle for second in the World Championship, Red Bull asked Sergio’s teammate, World Champion Max Verstappen, to move aside for 6th in the Brazilian Grand Prix. However, the Dutchman refused. On the radio post-race, Max’s race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase asked his engineer “what happened Max?” The 2-time World Champion responded with: “I told you already last time – you guys don’t ask that again to me, ok? Are we clear about that?” Checo said to his engineer, “it shows who [Max] really is”. Team boss Christian Horner has said that the matter has been discussed internally. Although, there is no secret that Checo is questioning whether Red Bull is the team for him.
Can Perez win a World Championship at Red Bull?
Whilst Sergio Perez has broken the mold of being uncompetitive in relation to Max Verstappen as his teammate, the former Racing Point driver is still classified as the #2. This is of course the problem for Checo. When you are in the fastest car, you want to have equal opportunity to win the World Championship. You also expect the same rules to be applied across the team. Max can genuinely thank Sergio for winning his maiden title. If the Mexican hadn’t held up Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Max wouldn’t have had the tire advantage at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Checo has played the team game. Max in Checo’s eyes hasn’t returned the favor. We all know that Red Bull revolves around Max Verstappen. In reality, Checo could feel lost in his pursuit at Red Bull.
What’s Next for Checo.
With a contract until the end of next year, Checo will have another chance to get the better of Max Verstappen in 2023. After that, there is no way of knowing where Checo might go. He’s got the best car and the support of the team behind him, but as a wingman to Max. Like all F1 Drivers, he wants to win the World Championship. With Verstappen in the other car, it is more than a tall order. To have a chance at the title, Sergio has to stay at Red Bull. Ferrari will stick with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Whilst Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton may be on the wrong side of 37, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, with F1’s newest race winner George Russell alongside him. The short of it is this: Perez is a man of morals. If he feels he is being disrespected, he will leave.
Sergio will sign a one-year extension at Red Bull to stay for the 2025 season. After that, Checo will sign with the new Sauber-Audi F1 team in 2026 on a two-year contract.