Never mind continuing with Sergio Perez into 2024, Christian Horner says “if” the driver delivers, he sees no reason why he can’t be in the running for a 2025 Red Bull seat.
Perez has come in for a lot of stick this season given his performance deficit to Max Verstappen, who has raced out to a 125-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
Although the Mexican driver made a strong start to the campaign, winning two of the opening four races, a crash in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix destroyed his trust in the car resulting in a steep decline.
Christian Horner confirms Sergio Perez for 2024
Failing five race weekends in a row to make it into Q3, Perez’s attempts to regain his lost form weren’t helped by constant speculation about his future with one pundit after the next asking if his Red Bull days were numbered.
But while motorsport advisor Helmut Marko passed a comment or three, Horner felt all it would take was one good race for Perez to bounce back.
He did that in Hungary, racing from ninth on the grid to the podium, and followed that up with a runner-up result at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Although it’s fair to say his title hopes are over, Perez continues to hold down second place with his advantage over Fernando Alonso up to 40 points.
His confidence will be further boosted by hearing his team boss adamant Red Bull will honour his 2024 contract.
“We have a contract,” Horner told Speedcafe. “We’re happy with Checo and he will be our driver next year.”
“But”, and there is always a but, he added: “For us, it’s always good to have… the whole purpose of AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso before was to be training drivers as potential candidates for Red Bull Racing.
“That’s why, with Nyck [de Vries], it didn’t feel like he was going to be a Red Bull Racing candidate, so then the argument you put is, does it make sense to keep going?”
When Red Bull made the call to drop Nyck de Vries after he failed to score a point in his 10 races, the team loaned reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo to AlphaTauri with the Aussie making it known he wants to continue into 2024 and make a play for Perez’s seat.
The Honey Badger is just one of Red Bull’s options with the team boss saying Ricciardo’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda is also in the running for a 2025 race seat, as is Perez, and even drivers outside the Red Bull family.
“I think ’25, it’s just good always to have options,” he continued. “I mean, Max is fixed till ’28. Checo’s contract runs until the end of next year.
“If he, if Checo delivers, we’ll keep going with Checo. If he doesn’t, for whatever reason, then it’s…
“But that won’t be just restricted to AlphaTauri drivers, because there’s an awful lot of drivers up and down the pit lane that would like to drive a Red Bull car.”
And age won’t be a factor with Horner saying Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, 42 and 38, have shown that it counts for very little which is good news for Ricciardo who’ll turn 36 in 2025.
“I don’t see age as a barrier,” he said when asked if Ricciardo would be considered too old in 2025. “When I see what Fernando Alonso is doing, and Lewis Hamilton. It’s all about what’s up here [in the mind] that counts.”