Sergio Perez extension may not please everyone – but he was always Red Bull’s first choice

Sam Cooper
Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez has been handed a two-year extension to his Red Bull stay.

Replace the name Sergio Perez with Valtteri Bottas and the current speculation surrounding the Mexican sounds awfully like what was being said about the Finn during his Mercedes days.

The role of a number two driver to a generational talent is an odd one, for while fans want a driver who can challenge, and if the car is so far ahead they become the only threat, what a team wants is stability.

Look at Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. That was the Championship pairing closest in ability since Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in 2007 or even Prost-Senna in the 1980s but it very nearly saw the Mercedes machine crumble from the inside.

Toto Wolff is open in his admission that had it not been for Rosberg’s retirement after his title win in 2016 then the Austrian would have shown at least one of the drivers the door.

So teams who have a car that is a step ahead of the rest and a driver at the top of his game, often look for some similar attributes in their second car: dependable, skilled and unlikely to upset the apple cart.

Not to mention that aside from Helmut Marko, the word from Red Bull has been almost entirely positive about Perez. Verstappen described him as the best team-mate he ever had while Christian Horner has consistently praised the Mexican’s influence within the team.

Even during his poor run last season where he failed to reach Q3 on eight occasions, Horner was reluctant to hang his driver out to dry.

There is also the added benefit of the popularity and sponsors Checo brings to the team. With his team-mate on a reported $55 million a year, Red Bull are more than happy to welcome the likes of Mexican wireless telecommunications company Telcel to the team. Perez also has deals with Disney, Mobil, Claro, Nescafé and KitKat.

Not to mention the fan impact of having Perez on board. In 2016. Mexican viewership of F1 increased by 500% and it is no coincidence that since Perez arrived in the sport, the Mexican Grand Prix has returned to the calendar to become one of the most well-supported races in the world.

So when it came to 2025, Perez was always going to be at the top of the list but even if his performances had been worse than they have, who is the obvious replacement?

Daniel Ricciardo was billed as the heir apparent but his season has got off to an even poorer start than Perez’s and the Australian is comfortably behind his RB team-mate in the standings.

That RB team-mate is Yuki Tsunoda who was always an outside bet to get the Red Bull seat, even if he has continued to impress this season.

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That means that if Red Bull would opt to replace Perez, they would have to look externally with former driver Carlos Sainz being an obvious choice but going back to what we said earlier about what a team wants in a number two driver, the Spaniard is not an easy fit.

As we have seen at Ferrari, Sainz is not one to accept playing second fiddle and his performances over the past few seasons have warranted being a number one driver or at least equal. Therefore a move to Red Bull, where he would have to accept being number two to Verstappen seemed neither in his or the team’s best interest.

Then there is Fernando Alonso who, if his future had not already been decided with a contract extension at Aston Martin earlier this year, would fit into the category of a disruptive presence if things went south.

Reported Red Bull target Lando Norris committed to McLaren earlier this year, as did Charles Leclerc ,with Ferrari meaning of the young stars, few, if any, were available.

So when you take all that into account Perez is the natural choice for the seat and gives Red Bull some much needed stability in a season of uncertainty.

The interesting aspect of the deal is the length of it, with Perez staying for at least another two years and taking the team to the new regulations in 2026.

As to what comes then is a question for another day.

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