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Red Bull confirm talks with potential Perez replacement

Red Bull is currently in contract negotiations with Carlos Sainz, confirms Helmut Marko.

Red Bull is a team whose driver lineup has been under heavy scrutiny for some time. After a strong start to last year’s campaign, Sergio Perez struggled to rediscover his best form – suffering from a series of qualifying eliminations and poor results. To start the 2024 season, the Mexican driver has rectified this poor trajectory and performed well. However, remembering his downward spiral from last season, Red Bull is not rushing to make any decision. The reigning Champions are assessing all of their options – including Carlos Sainz.

Max Verstappen’s next F1 teammate is a crucial talking point. Not since Daniel Ricciardo in 2018 has someone seriously challenged the Dutchman in equal machinery. This is partly why Helmut Marko put Ricciardo in the AlphaTauri seat last season. The hope at Milton Keynes was that he could become an option for 2025.

However, the Australian has failed to perform at his best. It is instead Yuki Tsunoda who is leading RB – securing important points and outualifying his teammate throughout 2024 so far. Still, Tsunoda is still not viewed within the team as a viable option to drive alongside Max Verstappen.

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Red Bull look to Carlos Sainz

With this knowledge, Red Bull is looking outside their driver pool. One of those being evaluated is Carlos Sainz. The Ferrari driver continues to perform at a high level. After holding his own against Charles Leclerc for several years, Sainz has taken big results – including race victories – in 2024.

In a recent interview, Helmut Marko was asked if Carlos Sainz is being considered for next season:

“We’re talking to him. He’s having his strongest season in Formula 1,” Marko told Kleine Zeitung.

“But he has a very lucrative offer from Audi that we can’t match or beat, but we still know him from the Toro Rosso days.

“Even back then, he drove with Max [as his teammate]. But it really hurt him back then when we at Red Bull signed Verstappen and not him.”

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Red Bull works to construct the best line-up possible

As briefly outlined in Marko’s statements, Red Bull never wanted Carlos Sainz to leave the Austrian setup. However, the decision to promote Max Verstappen in 2016 (instead of the Spaniard) pushed Sainz to explore options elsewhere.

Since then, and especially after Ricciardo’s exit, the team has struggled to find a teammate for Verstappen. Whilst Sergio Perez did well in 2021 and 2022, his efforts last season put his future into question. Moreover, Red Bull must consider the line-ups of rival teams.

With Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc to make up Ferrari’s 2025 line-up, competition will be fierce. This could influence Red Bull to pursue a more daring driver line-up.

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Sergio Perez still in contention

Still, there are many conditions that need to be fulfilled for Sainz to join Red Bull. Primarily, the Austrian team will evaluate Sergio Perez’s performances. If he continues to secure consistent results, a contract extension is on the cards.

Of course, Helmut Marko has also suggested that Perez (if he does receive a new contract ) will only receive a one-year deal. The 80-year-old believes that Perez might “slack off” on a multi-year contract. Regardless of whether this assessment is accurate, it suggests that Red Bull are unsure about committing to Perez for the long-term.

The Audi variable

In this context, Carlos Sainz is a logical option. The question is whether the Ferrari driver is attracted by the big-figure contract being offered by Audi. Whilst the German manufacturer is unlikely to be a front-running team in 2026, their resources mean they are a project with huge potential.

Moreover, they could offer the 29-year-old a level of security he will be searching for after abruptly losing his Ferrari seat.


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